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Use and Abuse of Music . . . . .3 

Influence of Music . . . . . . 4 

Musical Composers . • . . .5 


Vibration of Sounding Bodies ^ 

Conductors of Sound . .^•'J'-. 

Effects of Sound in Rarified Atmospheres' . 
Sound in Gases . . V ' . 

Sound as heard at Night . ' . • 
Conducting Power of Liquids . . ■ . 

Conducting Power of Solids . . ' • • 

Condition of Seunding Bodies 
Vibrating Strings 


The External Ear . . . .22 

The Internal Ear . . . . 29 

Oi^ganization of the Ear . . .33 


Measuring the Velocity of Sound . . . . 38 

Recent Experiments . . . . .40 

Velocity of Sound on Water . . . . . 41 

Conducting Power of Iron . . . . .42 

Importance of Knowledge . . , . ^JJ* 


• ■ 

. 11 

■ < 


• • 

. 14 


. 15 

I ■ *• • # ' 


• • 


• • • 





All Sounds have the same Velocity 

On Estimating Distance by Sound 

The Speaking Trumpet 

Sound through Tubes 

Curtis*8 Acoustic Chair 

Propagatiou of Sounds 

Reflection of Sound 


Origin of Thunder 




Advantages of Hearing 
Varieties of Sound 
Musical Notes 
Audibility of Sound 
Harmony and Discord 
Octaves and Unisons 



Thb Monochord • 

Nodal Points 

Voigt's Theory 

Chladni's Theory of Sound 

Longitudinal Vibration of Rods 

Stringed Instruments 



The Euphone and Harmonicon 
Vibration Figures 
Vibration of Solids 
Figures on Vibrating Surfaces 




Oentted on Sonorous Vibration . .117 

Spiral Vibrations . . . . 120 

Perrole*8 Experiments . . .121 

Communication of Sounds ... . . 122 

Vibratory Systems . . . .125 

Reciprocation of Sound . . . 129 

Professor Wheatstone's Dittcuvtii-ics . .131 


Wind Instruments . . 136 
Flutes of the Ancients ..... 139 

Theban Flutes . . . . 141 

Knowledge of the Ancients . . .144 

Musical Sounds from RucIch . . . 14.5 

Sounds from Burning IIydro{ren Cias . . .147 

Resonance in Tubes .153 

Biot and Hamel's Elxperiments . . .1.55 

The Hautboy, Bassoon, and Trumpet . . .157 

Tlie Organ . . . .158 


Intention of the Scale . . . . 162 

Clefs in Musical ComiM>sitiou . .163 

Duration of Musical Notes . . . 165 

Intenrals . . • . 166 

Natural Notes . . . . 168 

Scales of Music . . . 1 69 

Time . . . 170 


Music among the Ancients • . .173 

Egyptian Music . . . 174 

Hebrew Music . . . . 1 75 
Qr«cian Music ...... \%^ 


Music among the early Christians . : • 202 

Introduction of Music with Christianity into Britain . . 205 
The Troubadours and Minstrels .... 208 

Music of the Fifteenth Century . . . .212 

Thomas of Elrceldoune . • . .213 

Chaucer ....... 215 

Origin of the King's Band . • . . 219 

Muac in the Reign of Elizabeth . . . . 225 

Continental Music in the Sixteenth Century . 229 

Celebrated Musicians and Composers . .231 




Although the art of playing on musical instruments has 
become so general, in this country^ that the education of a 
female is esteemed imperfect if she be not a tolerable per* 
former, the science of music seldom becomes an object of 
study. There are many persons who, from constant practice, 
are able to make the meanest and least perfect instruments 
« discourse most eloquent music," and yet cannot account for 
the production of a single sound, much less for the spirit- 
stirring harmony. When vie consider the great interest 
which has been felt by all classes of society, during the last 
few years, in philosophical researches, we cannot attribute 
this ignorance of the philosophy of sound and the principles 
of music to any distaste for such inquiries. An effort has 
been made to inculcate the necessity of studying the styles 
of the more celebrated composers, and a better taste has 
been thus already created. An equal amount of importance 
will soon» we think, be attributed to the science ; a know- 


ledge of music should be based upon its philosophical prin- 
ciples ; and in those instances where the teacher has failed to 
adopt this system, the want of a sufficient guide would pro- 
bably be urged as the only reason for a course which every 
one would deprecate. So far as our knowledge extends, 
there is not a single work in the language which pretends to 
teach the doctrine of sound in connexion with the principles 
of music, in a manner calculated to assist the student. If 
this book should not be so extensive or perfect as many 
persons may wish, it will, we hope, do much to remove 
those difficulties which have so long prevented the study of 
the subjects it attempts to explain. 

The time that is judiciously expended in acquiring the art 
of playing upon musical instruments, and in studying the 
principles of harmony, is by no means ill spent There are 
many persons who affect to despise both the art and the 
science, and speak of them as pursuits only suited to inferior 
minds. It sometimes happens, that from an inordinate re- 
gard for the personal gratification derived from music, the 
mind is left uncultivated, and the ear is the only organ of 
communication ; and that becomes so limited in its use. as to 
convey those impressions calculated to please with far more 
facility than those which instruct. 

There have been in thb and in 6ther countries many justl}'^ 
celebrated musical performers who have had scarcely any 
claim upon the attentions of polite, not to say educated, 
society, except for their skill in giving sound to a wild ima- 
gination. It is said of one of the greatest literary characters 
of this country, that he was once importuned by a young 
nobleman to listen to his performance on the flute. The 


youth played well, and expected pruse ; but received a re- 
buke for the waste of much time that ought to have been 
devoted to the improvement of his own mind, and in the 
service of his country. Thb has sometimes been used as an 
argument against the study of music as an art ; but it was 
not the intention of the moralist to object to the study in 
all cases as a useless ezpencUture of time, but a misappropri- 
ation of skill in one instance. We do not hesitate to saj, 
that we can perceive no difference between the fame of a 
man who is nothing more than a skilful musician and one 
who is an expeditious conjuror ; and we should prefer that of 
an ingenious blacksmith to either. But when we consider 
the proud honour of the musical composer, ranked in all 
ages vnth the poet, we discover that music is more than an 
art ; it demands the aid of the imagination as well as the 

How vast and unbounded are the pleasures derived from 
music! All the passions are under its control. Now it 
wakens the latent courage in the breast of the soldier ; and 
now administers to the pensive sorrow of the weeping mother ; 
at one moment it inspires the soul with sublime and hallowed 
awe, and at the next gives life to unbounded mirth. It is 
suited to stimulate the feeling of devotion, and to increase 
the boisterous pleasures of a village harvest*homc. We 
listen with equal delight, but with different sensibilities, to 
the rich and overpowering strains of the organ, and the soft 
luxuriant tone of the flute. In all its variety of intensity, 
time, and style, it pleases ; for it is harmony still, and leads 
the mind a willing captive to its power. 



Music is also suited to please all the varieties of the human 
mind. The illiterate and the learned, the thoughtless and 
the giddy, the phlegmatic and the sanguine, all confess 
themselves to be its votaries. It is a source of the purest 
mental enjoyment, and may be obtained by all. A cul- 
tivated taste in this instance, as in all others, increases both 
our pleasures and our pain. The strains which gratify what 
is called the vulgar ear, are sources of painful disgust to 
him who has acquired a practical acquaintance with the 
noblest efforts of genius. But it is the best evidence of the 
universal character of music, that it is suited to all classes, 
and never ceases to please. These remarks will probably 
call to the reader's remembrance Shakspeare's celebrated 


Nought is 80 Btockish, hard, and full of rage, 
But music for the time doth change his nature : 
The man that hath no music in himself, 
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, 
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. 
The motions of his spirit are as dull as night, 
And his affections dark as Erebus : 
Let no such man be trusted. 

The power of music over the feelings of mankind is 
universally acknowledged. Wearied with the oppression of 
the noonday sun, and exhausted with labour, the husband- 
man sits beneath the shade of his native oak, and sings the 
songs he heard in infancy ; amid the rugged heights of the 
Alps, the peasant girl chants the spirit-stirring songs of her 
ancestors ; the man of business, the man of letters, and the 
statesman, wearied with exertion of mind and burden of care, 
seek relief round the family hearth, and forget awhile ambi- 


tlon aiid fears, under the influence of music ; and the broken- 
hearted wanderer sings the songs he heard at home — 

Whilst recollections sad but sweet. 
Arise and disappear. 

If such be the enjoyments derived from music, it must be 
a subject in every respect worthy our regard ; but although 
appreciated by all, it is known to few ; and its practice, in 
the higher branches, is confined to a very small number. 
That man's powers of mind deserve our highest regard^ 
who can place sounds in such an order, and so unite har- 
monies, as to excite at will the souls of his hearers. And 
vet how inefficient is man at best, for how few of those 
who can rouse into action the varied powers of mind, can 
control their own! What poor expedients have been 
tried to bring into action that excitement, the result of which 
so much delights the hearer ! It is a painful thing to watch 
the imbecility of genius. Haydn, the solemn and majestic 
Haydn, never felt the inspiration if he did not wear the ring 
presented to him by Frederick the Second. Cherubini was 
generally roused by the mirtH of his friends ; and if this 
should fail, by drawing caricatures on a pack of cards. 
Gluck wrote his " Iphigenias " and " Orpheus ** in a meadow 
with a bottle of champagne by his side. Zingarelli read the 
classics previous to dictation. Sacchini sought the society 
of his cats ; and Sarti shut himself in a large room dimly 
lighted by one solitary lamp hanging from the ceiling. 

Musical composition may be divided into two classes, 
scientific and imaginative. In making this distinction, it is 
not intended to assert, that any composition can be entirely 
either one or the other. Many imitations are almost strictly 


scientific, but they cannot perhaps have been penned with- 
out the aid of imagination, though evidently of so low an 
order as to be unworthy of the name. It is perhaps difficult 
in many instances to say, whether a composition belongs to 
one class or the other, the science and the imagination are so 
well balanced^ and are both so far below praise. The music 
of Moscheles and Pixis is strictly scientific, almost mathe- 
matical. Beethoven^ Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and Weber, 
were imaginative writers, yet possessed of so much scientific 
knowledge, that had they evinced less genius they must have 
taken rank with the inferior class. 

The high estimation we have formed of what is required 
from a professor of music, and what ought to be sought after 
by a student, may, perhaps^ lead us to place before our 
readers, in the estimation of some, too high a standard of 
excellence. There is, however, an advantage in this, fur 
although it is quite possible for him who aims low, to shoot 
his arrow beneath the mark ; the chances are, that he who 
aims higher will be nearer the prize. The highest honours 
should be the objects of ambition, and if they should not 
be obtained, the energy which prompted and directed the 
effort will find a satisfactory reward. 



Thb word sound may be used to signify either that sensa- 
tion which, under certain circumstances, is experienced by 
organised creatures, or the means by which such sensation is 
caused. Thus, we speak of the velocity with which sound 
travels, and the distance at which it may be heard, evidently 
having reference to that particular physical condition affecdng 
the organ of hearing. At other times the word is used in 
another sense ; thus we say it is a pleasant sound, meaning to 
express the sensation produced. It is scarcely possible to avoid, 
in such a work as this, the use of the term in both its applica- 
tions ; but there can be no doubt at any time in the mind of 
a reader as to the meaning to be attached to it, for that may 
always be determined from the connexion in which it is used. 
It will, however, be better, where it can be done without sa- 
crificing the perspicuity of style, so necessary in works 
intended to teach the elements of philosophy, to distinguish, 
by the use of a phrase, the difference between sound and the 
sensation produced by it, as we have done in the title of this 

Without entering into any metaphysical inqmries as to the 
nature of a sensation, and admitting it to be an impression 
produced upon the mind through the agency of one or more 


of the organs of sense^ we shall at once proceed to illustrate 
the manner in which a sensation of sound may be produced. 
For this effect three things are required ; a sounding body, 
a conducting medium, and an organ of hearing ; and of these 
we shall speak separately. 


If we examine any substance at a time when it is said to 
be sounding, we shall find it to be in a state of vibration. 
The vibrations of a sounding-string may be seen ; and in 
those instances where the vibrations of a body cannot be 
seen, they may be felt. A bell or a glass vessel, when struck, 
is put into a state of vibration, and if during the period that 
this continues it be touched with the finger, the vibration will 
be felt, and the sound will be deadened or stifled. 

If a wire or cord be stretched between two fixed points, as 
in the harp or violin, and be then pulled with the finger or 
touched with a bow, it will be drawn from its position, and 
for a certain number of times will vibrate backwards and 
forwards. During the time of vibration some one sound will 
be given out, and it may be made continuous by keeping up 
the motion. The pitch of the sound will be regulated by the 
number of vibrations, as will be proved in a subsequent chap- 
ter. All that is necessary for us to state at present is, that, 
every condition remaining unchanged, the same sound will 
always be produced. A bell will give out the same tone so 
long as its temperature remains without any considerable 
alteration. A stretched cord also will give the same note 
for any length of time, if the weights upon it be continued. 


and if its unifonnity of structure does not suffer from 
stretching. In the case of vibrating strings, the same length 
and tension are not the only conditions required for the pro- 
duction of the same note, for the size and density have a 
considerable influence. So in bars, rods, plates, and other 
vibrating solids, the density of the material of which they are 
formed must be estimated. A perfect uniformity of structure 
is not less necessary, as must be known from the broken and 
discordant sound produced by a cracked glass or bell. 


We come now to a consideration of the conducting me- 
dium. That there must be some medium of communication 
between the sounding body and organ of hearing, is evident, 
from the fact, that we have no sensation of sound by the 
vibration of a plate or bell in a vacuum, though the sound 
is quite audible when struck in the atmosphere. 


Air is the common conductor of sound, but not the only 
one ; for it has been proved by experiment that liquids and 
solids perform the same office, as well as many gases, in 
various degrees. The conducting power of the atmosphere 
changes with its density, and the same is, in all probability, 
true in relation to the other gases. Travellers have stated 
that on high mountains sounds are much less intense than at 
those elevations above the sea where human habitations are 
commonly fixed. This may, however, be proved without 
entering upon the perilous task of crossing the elevated passes 


of the Himalaya or other mountains ; for if any body, which 
can be kept in a state of vibration, be placed under the 
receiver of a pump, and the air be gradually exhausted, the 
intensity of the sound will be proportionately diminished, and 
at last cease to a£Pect the ear. 

" The height to which an atmosphere, or medium," says 
Sir John Herschel, '* capable of conveying sound extends, far 
exceeds any attainable on mountains, by balloons, or even by 
the lightest clouds. The great meteor of 1783 produced a 
distinct rumbling sound, although its height above the earth's 
surface was full fifty miles at the time of its explosion. The 
sound produced by the explosion of the meteor of 1719, at 
an elevation of at least sixty-nine miles, was heard as * the 
report of a very great cannon or broadside,' shook the doors 
and^windows of houses, and threw a looking-glass out of its 
frame and broke it. These heights are deduced by calcula- 
tion from observations too unequivocal, and agreeing too well 
vnth each other, to allow of doubt Scarcely less violent was 
the sound caused by the bursting of the meteor of July 17th, 
1771, near Paris ; the height of which at the moment of the 
explosion is assigned by Le Loy at 20,598 toises, or about 
twenty-five miles. The report of a meteor, in 1756, threw 
down several chimneys at Aix in Provence, and was taken for 
an earthquake. These instances, and others which might be 
adduced, are sufficient to show that sound can be excited in, 
and conveyed by, air of an almost inconceivable tenuity, pro- 
vided the exciting cause be sufficiently powerful and exten- 
sive, neither of which qualities can be regarded as deficient 
in the case of fire-balls such as those of 1719 and 1783, the 
latter of which was half a mile in diameter, and moved at the 


rate of twenty miles in a second. It may, however, be con- 
tended, and not without some probability, that at these 
enormous heights sound may owe its propagation to some 
other medium more rare and elastic than air, and extending 
beyond the limits of the atmosphere of air and yapour.** 

We have introduced this quotation from Sir John Her- 
schel's paper on sound, in the Encyclopedia Metropolitana, 
not because it would have been difficult or troublesome to 
have collected the same and many other similar examples 
from the philosophical journals, but for the purpose of directing 
the attention of the reader to that able treatise, and to give 
ourselves an opportunity of acknowledging the assistance we 
have derived from it Those who are anxious to extend their 
inquiries beyond the limits which we are compelled to draw 
in an elementary treatise, may consult it with the confidence 
that they have availed themselves of the best guide which 
the literature of England can offer. This tribute of honour 
we owe to the truly illustrious philosopher ; and if we had 
been speaking of his Essay on Light, we should hove said it 
is the best philosophical article in any language, remark- 
able for the elegance and purity of its style, the simplicity of 
its demonstrations, the eloquence of its deductions ; it is^ in 
fact, a perfect exposition of the state of the science at the 
time when it was written, and should be the model of all 
future teachers. 

We come now to inquire into the conducting power of 
gases. It has been maintained, with what truth we shall see 
in the following pages, that the intensity of sounds varies with 
the density of the gases which transmit them. Dr. Priestley 
made some experiments on this subject, and informs us that a 


bell put into vibratiou in hydrogen gas was scarcely more 
audible than in a vacuum ; and that in carbonic acid and 
oxygen it was louder than in common atmospheric air. PeroUe 
says, that a sound which was heard in atmospheric air at a 
distance of fifty-six feet, was not audible at a distance of more 
than forty-eight in carbonic acid gas, eleven in hydrogen, and 
sixty-three in oxygen and nitrous gas. From these state- 
ments it is evident that Priestley and Perolle did not obtain 
the same results. 

In the Cambridge Philosophical Transactions (vol. i., 
p. 267), Mr. Leslie has given an account of some experiments 
he made on the conducting power of gases, and they are by 
far the most important yet brought before our attention. 
He proved in these observations the truth of Priestley's 
results in reference to hydrogen. Having exhausted the air 
from a receiver, he filled it with that gas, and the audibility 
of sound was scarcely increased. On another occasion, he 
took a portion of air from a receiver, and admitted hydrogen. 
In the mixed gases the intensity of sound was instantly dimi- 
nished, the bell being scarcely heard. This is a result which 
could not have been anticipated from our knowledge of the 
conduction of sound in other instances, and the physical con- 
stitution of the atmosphere, which is, in fact, a mixed gas. 

Upon these experiments Sir John Herschel makes the fol- 
lowing remarks : " It is much to be regretted that the circum- 
stances are not more fully stated ; the pitch of the bell in air, 
in the mixed gases, and in hydrogen alone : the dimensions 
of the receiver ; the distances at which the sounds ceased to 
be heard ; and whether the same effect took place when bells 
of different pitch were struck, and when the bell was muffled 


SO as to produce no musical sounds — are all particulars of 
essential consequence, to enable us to form a judgment of what 
really took place in this interesting experiment." 

The lamented death of Professor Leslie before he had an 
opportunity of repeating his experiments with attention to 
the circumstances suggested in the previous remarks, induced 
the author to commence the task with great care, and the 
results already obtsdned are such as to repay the labour they 
have cost We shall not anticipate the detsuls which will, 
at no Tery distant period, be communicated to some philoso- 
phical journal, as the observations are not at present complete. 

In all experiments upon the conduction of sound, it is 
absolutely necessary that the substance, whose office it is to 
carry the sound, should be homogeneous. If it be at one 
place more dense than another, the sound may be retarded at 
one instant, and have an increased velocity at another. Thus 
in uniting media of different densities, sound is stifled. Take 
a tumbler and touch it on the edge with a spoon, and it gives 
out a clear distinct sound. Now it must be remembered that 
the tumbler is not empty, it is filled with air. To exclude the 
air fill it with water, and still a clear tone will be produced. 
Then place successively in the water a little carbonate of soda, 
and tartaric acid, and an effervescing liquid will be obtained. 
The water is, for a few minutes, intermixed with a large quan- 
tity of gas, and a medium of unequal density is formed. The 
particles of gas and of water are blended together, and a sound 
attempting to pass from one part of the mixture to another 
is impeded, and loses its clearness of tone. That this is the 
effect may be proved by touching the edge of the glass as 
before, and a dull heavy tone will be heard instead of that 


clear, sonorous musical note given out when the vessel was 
full of air. 

This experiment has been introduced to explain the reason 
why sounds are more distinctly heard during the night than 
by day. That the clearness and intensity of sounds are in- 
creased during the night is known to every one. It may be 
partly attributed to the repose of the animal creation^ but this 
is not sufficient to account for the fact. In a retired country 
resort the only sounds that strike the ear in the busiest hours 
of day, are the lowing of oxen, the bleating of sheep, the 
merry songs of birds, the indifferent whistle of the ploughman, 
and sometimes the pleasing peel of bells. But with what a 
freshness does the last burst upon the ear when heard at even- 
ing when the sun has sunk to rest ! Humboldt says that he 
was particularly struck with the greatly increased intensity of 
sound during the night, when he heard the noise of the great 
cataracts of the Oroonoko in the plain which surrounds the 
mission of Apures. It is, he says, three times greater at 
night than at day, although the noises arising from animals 
are more numerous and louder at that time. There must 
then be a reason for the greater intensity of sound at night, 
altogether independent of the influence of animal life. During 
the day the temperature of the atmosphere is not uniform. 
The stratum in immediate contact with the earth is heated 
both by radiation and conduction, and consequently has a 
higher temperature than the strata above it. The effect of 
heat upon all gases is known to be expansion, and therefore 
they must become bulk for bulk lighter. As soon then as the 
air in contact with the earth is heated it rises, and that which 
is above descends into its place, and this also suffers the same 


change. CurreBts of different densities are constantly ascend- 
ing and descending, so that during the day the sound is not 
so well conducted as at night, when the temperature of the 
atmosphere becomes more uniform. In dense fogs> and in 
snow-storms, sounds are badly conducted, for the same reason. 
The effect of carpets, woollens of all kinds, and furs, in dead- 
ening sound, arises from the same cause. The openness of 
texture allows the intermixture of edr with the fibre, and this 
is quite sufficient to account for the singular effect. The 
alteration of conducting power produced by the admixture of 
gases of different kinds has not yet been determined ; but from 
what has been already stated, we may perceive that in the 
constitution of the atmosphere, the power of conducting sound 
most have been ordained by the Creator. 


Many liquids have the property of conducting sound as 
well as gases and vapours. Water, which is always considered 
as the type of the class to which it belongs, evidently has a 
conducting power. Divers inform us that they are sensible 
of sounds when at great depths beneath the surface of water, 
and not only of those sounds which are created in that me- 
dium, but also of those produced in air. In the latter case 
tikey are less distinct, as might be supposed. Dr. Franklin 
made a familiar experiment, which may be easily repeated, 
to determine whether sound can be conducted by water. An 
assistant was stationed about half a mile from the Doctor, and 
made to strike two stones together under the surface ; the 
sound was distinctly heard by the latter, when the head was 


plunged into the same medium. Anderon's experiments on 
this subject are the most interesting with which we are ac- 
quainted. On one occasion he caused three persons to dive, 
and remain at a depth of about two feet below the surface ; 
during which time he spoke to them as loud as he was able, 
and they heard him, but thought that he spoke very low. At 
another time he engaged a diver to descend with a bell in his 
hand, and the sound was distinctly heard in the water. These 
facts are sufficient to prove the conducting power of one liquid, 
and all others probably possess the same property. 


Elastic solids are found to be better conductors of sound 
than liquids. It is well known the ticking of a watch may be 
distinctly heard at the end of a long piece of timber, opposite 
to that at which the watch is placed. If, however, instead of 
the watch, an assistant tap with the head of a pin, and so 
gently as not to be even heard by himself, it will be quite 
audible to the person who applies his ear at the opposite end. 
A still more interesting experiment, mentioned by Chladni, 
may be made in proof of the ready conducting power of elastic 
solids. Suspend a piece of metallic wire, about 600 feet long, 
in an horizontal position, and attach to one end a metal plate 
which when struck will give out a clear tone. If the opposite 
end of the wire be taken between the teeth, and an assistant 
then strike the plate, the sound will be immediately conducted 
by the wire, and more slowly by the air ; the sound as con- 
ducted by the metal is immediately heard, while that trans- 
mitted by the ur foUows. 



Although the conductors of sound are extremely various in 
their physical constitution, being either solids, liquids, or gases, 
tfaej must possess some common properties to which the power 
of transmitting sound may be attributed. When a tense string 
is touched^ or a bell is rung, a tremulous motion is produced 
through the mass of the substance. This is evidenUy occa- 
sioned by a limited displacement of particles. Let us take as 
simple a case as we can. Imagine a string to be a single row 
of indivisible particles, or, as they are sometimes called, mole- 
cules. The union between them is produced, and maintained 
by that attractive power denominated the force of cohesion. 
Within a certain limit, the close connexion between these 
particles may be disturbed without being destroyed. Let us 
for example examine this fact in reference to any two of the 
chain of molecules. The cohesive force binds them together, 
but some external force stronger than the cohesive may turn 
them from the line of direction, and yet not so far as to prevent 
the cohesive force from bringing them back to their original 
position, when the external agency is removed. Two mag- 
nets suspended near to each other will soon arrange them- 
selves by magnetic attraction— the north pole of the one being 
directed to the south pole of the other. Remove either of 
these poles from the right line in which it is placed, and the 
other will be also disturbed ; but as soon as the external force 
is taken away, the magnetic attraction acts without control, 
and after a few vibrations backwards and forwards, the poles 
eome to precisely the same position they occupied before dit- 



turbance. It is just so with the particles of a sounding body. 
The particles of all substances are not equally capable of 
disturbance, and for this reason they are not all equally good 
tounding bodies. The power of receiving an alteration of 
form, and of afterwards returning to the original condition, is 
called elasticity^ and this property is essential to the production 
of sound. We may, however, be told that all elastic substances 
are not sonorous^ and to meet this objection fully would 
occupy more space than ought to be given to such a subject 
in an elementary work. One or two remarks, however, will 
not be out of place. 

The elasticity possessed by bodies may be of different 
kinds ; thus, for instance, both dough and indian-rubber have 
the property, but the effect is very different in the two cases. 
We may suppose the particles of dough to be elastic, but the 
sphere of their elasticity is small ; and when once drawn 
.beyond it, they suffer permanent displacement. In indian- 
rubber, on the other hand, the sphere is very large, so that 
We may draw it out to a great distance without bringing the 
particles out of the influence of mutual attraction. So again, 
the ease with which the particles are displaced may vary ; 
a force which would have a great effect upon indian- 
rubber would have little or none on a piece of metal. These 
and similar differences should be estimated when considering 
the reason why one substance is sonorous and another 
is not. 

We must, however, now proceed, upon the fact that a 
sounding body is in a state of vibration, to illustrate the 
effect produced upon a fluid-conducting medium, or in other 
words, the condition of such a medium during the trans- 


misftion of sound. Every one is acquainted with the ap- 
pearance produced by the fall of stone into water. Many 
circular waves are produced, flowing^ from the centre, and 
gradually dying away as the distance increases. Now the 
successive impulses of a vibrating body act in precisely the 
same manner on any medium in which the vibrations are pro- 
duced. Let us take the case of a tense string stretched by 
weights at both ends ; for although bells, plates, and solids 
of other forms, act in the same manner, they would not per- 
haps afford so simple an illustration. Imagine the string 

Or .— — — '"""^ '" — — —- «— -.^ o 

Vibrating String. 
a 6, to be drawn out of the straight line to point c, and 
then left at liberty to vibrate to d, and from thence to c 
again, and immediately after to come to rest in the line 
a h. The effect of this would be a series of waves in 
the atmosphere around the string, which would move, to 
use a common expression^ backwards and forwards for a 
short time, and then die away in the calm uniformity. But 
instead of this single vibration, we may suppose the string 
to pass many times from c to (2, and gradually taking a less 
arc, come to rest by slow and almost imperceptible degrees. 
If these vibrations be performed in equal times, that is to 
say, if an equal portion of time be occupied in its successive 
arrivals on the sides c and d, a regular series of waves will 
be produced, and a continuous musical sound will be the 
result ; but if on the other hand the impulses be irregular, 


20 WAVES. 

the waves will be so also, and either the sound will be stifled, 
or a noise must be the result. 

The notion which people generally have of a wave is by 
no means correct, and it will be necessary that we should 
attach a right meaning to the term before we proceed. ** A 
wave is not," says a celebrated v\rriter, " a progressive, 
moving body, but an advancing form." This is directly 
opposed to the common notion. Language is rightly em- 
ployed when we say that a wave is approaching ; but it is 
erroneous to suppose that the medium on which it is formed 
has a progressive motion. If we stand on the sea-shore at a 
time when the surface of the water b agitated, it will appear 
as if one mass of the liquid was advancing after another, and 
that we should soon be overwhelmed with the flood. This, 
however, is but an optical deception. We may perhaps 
see at no great distance a boat, or a floating fragment of 
wood or sea-weed ; at one moment it is on the top of the 
wave, and at the next hidden from sight in a valley, and 
makes no progress towards the shore. If the water were 
advancing, this would not be the case ; it would occupy the 
summit or depression of a wave, as it might be accidentally 

placed at first, and move on with the mass, without any 
vertical motion, towards the shore. 

A wave then is a form, and not a thing. It is true that 
the thing is in motion, but in a direction at right angles to 
the wave. In a string put into vibration by a bow, we may 
observe a system of waves, and they are moving in the di- 
rection of its length, but the string cannot do so, for it is 
fastened at both ends ; its motion, in fact, is transverse to 
that of the waves. 


If we have succeeded in giving an accurate and definite 
idea of what is meant by a wave or undulation, the reader 
who had previously entertained an erroneous opinion, will 
find many difficulties inseparably connected with his former 
supposition entirely removed. Should he have confined his 
attention to the propagation of sound in air, as he must 
have done, or would not have continued in error, many ob- 
jections to the theory of undulations would be suggested to 
his mind. We can imagine an intelligent inquirer failing on 
this point, and being consequently involved in an ocean of 
difficulties. The impossibility of conceiving a mass of air 
in a state of undulation to be projected by every impulse of 
a sounding body, and to impinge upon the organ of hearing, 
would induce him at once to resist the theory as in the 
highest degree absurd. But at this moment he would be 
met by the recollection that all philosophers had given their 
assent to the accuracy of the theory of undulations. Thus 
uiged in one direction by the conviction of his mind, and in 
the other by the authority of great names, he would probably 
be kept in a state of indecision, and perhaps of indifference. 
Put this individual in possession of the fact, that a wave is 
a moving form and not a moving thing, and his objections are 
instantly removed. He can then perceive that there is nothing 
difficult of belief in supposing the undulations of the atmo- 
sphere to be the means of conducting sound. 


Having explained the action of a sounding body, and the 
condacting medium, we wiU endeavour to describe the ana- 
tomical construction of the organ of hearing. 


The human ear is a very beautiful and complete ar- 
rangement of canals and orifices for the transmission of 
sound. It is divided by anatomists into two parts, one of 
which is called the external and the other the internal ear. 
The former includes all the parts of the organ which are 
without the membrane commonly known as the tympanum or 
the drum of the ear, and the latter all those which are within. 
Mr. Tod in hb excellent " Treatise on the Organ of Hearing," 
a work to which we are indebted for many of the facts to be 
mentioned in this part of our book, very properly objects to 
this division as arbitrary and defective, though he adopts it 
because generally employed in anatomical descriptions. The 
ear may be, he thinks, separated into three parts — an external, 
middle^ and internal ; and this division is to be preferred, not 
only because it gives the student a better idea of its con- 
struction ; but also from the circumstance that it distinguishes 
between the several functions for which the ear is in fact 


The external ear, or auricle^ may be divided into two por- 
tions — a large superior, which is called the ala or pinna ; 
and a small inferior, called the lobus. The auricle is attached 
to the temporal bone, and is of an irregular oval form, curi- 
ously constructed. 

The ala, or pinna, is formed of cartilage, and to the several 
eminences and cavities names have been given by anatomists, 
such as the helix, antihelix, tragus, antitragus, cavitas inno- 
minata, scapha, or fossa navicularis, and the concha ; all of 
which are represented in the following design. 


" Hie belii (a) is the laige folded margin, ot curved 
border, which commencei at the posterior superior part of the 
lobus, and Irom thence ascends and fonna the margin or 
border which surrounds the upper part of the ala, and lubse* 
quentJy descends and terminates aoteriorlj, nearly opposite 
to its beginning, in a ridge which divides ibe cavity called the 
concha into two unequal chambers. 

Fia. 2. 
" The antiheliz (i) is the large oblong e 
begins near the posterior extremity of tho helix, and from 
thence extendi obliquely forwards and upwards, and termi- 
nates by dividing into two pans, a superior and an inferior, of 
which the latter asusts in forming the tnperior part of the 
brim of the concha. 

'" The tragus (c) is the small eminence situated below the 
Ulterior extremity of the helix. In advanced age it is gene- 
rally coTered with bain. 


*' The antitragus {d) is the small eminence situated a little 
below the posterior extremity of the antihelix, and opposite 
to the tragus. 

« The cavitas innominata {e) is the curved depression which 
is situated between the helix and antihelix. 

^ The scapha, or fossa navicularis (/), is the small depres- 
sion between the divisions of the anterior extremity of the 

*' The concha (g) is the large cavity which is bounded 
above by the antihelix, below by the lobus, before by the 
tragus, and behind by the antitragus. It is divided by the 
anterior extremity of the helix into a small superior and a 
large inferior chamber, of which tiie latter leads to the meatus 
auditorius extemus. 

** The lobus is situated at the inferior part of the ala. It 
is composed of a cellular substance, with a small quantity of 
fat, and forms the inferior soft part of the auricle. 

" On the posterior surface of the auricle we observe a con- 
siderable eminence, called the dorsum of the concha.** 

For this anatomical description we are indebted to Mr. 
Tod, from whose work also the following account is in part 
collected. Connected with the concha there is a narrow tube, 
formed of bone and cartilage, called the meatus auditorius exter- 
nus, A B of the accompanying figure* It is an oval canal, about 
three quarters of an inch in length, but differs considerably 
in diameter at different parts ; it is smallest in the middle, and 
larger at the external than the internal extremity. *' It leads,'* 
•ays the author already quoted, "obliquely forwards and 
inwards, from the inferior chamber of the concha; and in 
its course proceeds a little upwards, then downwards at its 


iDtemnl eztremily, and terminates upon the aurbce of the 
membrana timpani, F. These curves, hotrever, are very 
iaconriderable, for the ioteraal eilremily of the canal can be 
eatily seen in a clear light, when the auricle U drawn a little 
backwards. This tube is defended from the injury that might 
arise from the acceas uF dust and small insects, by fine hairs, 
and a tiscous secretion called cerumen, or wax, produced by 
a number of small glands, known as the gland ulw ceruml- 
none. Another effect resulting from this secretion ia the dif- 


fusion of a moisture over the tympanum, thereby softening 
down the sonorous impulses, and rendering the membrane 
itself more sensible.** 

The eustachian tube, H G I, is connected with this cavity, 
and opens into the mouth. Behind the tympanum is a 
complicated apparatus, B C P, which is shown in detail in 
figure 4. 

The tympanum^ F, or drum of the ear, is composed of two 
nearly circular membranes. In children it is of an oval form. 
This membrane separates the external and internal ear, 
and " forms a completely impervous septum ; and from its 
extremely delicate and sensible texture, tension, concave and 
convex obliquity, is rendered capable of being stimulated 
by a very small impulse of sound ; and of being moved, by 
the muscles of the cavitas tympani, with the utmost facility. 
It also prevents all extraneous matter^ as well as sonorous 
pulses transmitted by the air, from irritating the cavitas tym- 

Having presented to the reader a condensed anatomical 
description of the external ear in man, many curious and 
interesting inquiries immediately suggest themselves to our 
mind. All animals do not possess an external ear, and the 
form varies considerably in the several species who are pro- 
vided with this appendage. The external ear and tympanum is 
confined to vertebrated animals, and all these do not possess 
them. Reptiles, fishes, worms, and insects^ have neither 
auricle or meatus ; and in birds the auricle is in the least 
possibly perfect state. Among this class of animals, however, 
there is a considerable variety in the degree of development. 
The carnivorous class have it much larger than the grami- 


nivorous ; and the birds which seek their prey by night, 
larger than those which procure it in the day. The last- 
mentioned fact certainly appears rather singular ; for, as 
it has been already remarked, the sounds are transmitted 
with greater facility during the night than the day. This may 
not, however, be sufficient to recompense the animal for the 
want of light, and a more perfect organ of hearing may con- 
sequently have been provided. 

The form and position of the external ear, and its capa- 
bility of motion, vary considerably in different quadrupeds. 
The ears of rabbits and hares are large, and have a great 
readiness of motion. They are also so placed as to enable them 
to hear sounds which are produced behind them. The reason 
of this is evident ; the animals are exposed to many dangers, 
and have no means of defence. Their chance of safety 
depends upon the swiftness of feet and the readiness of 
hearing. Rapacious animals, such as the lion, tiger, and cat, 
have their ears directed forward, and are not nearly so large iu 
proportion to their bulk or strength as in the hare. The ele- 
phant also, a large animal of great physical power and capable 
of self-defence, has a comparatively small ear. It would ap- 
pear, then, that the Creator has given such forms and sizes 
to the ears of animals as are best suited to their habits and cha- 
racters. To those which have been denied weapons of defence, 
and are by nature timid, He has given such an acuteness 
of the senses, as enables them to avoid their enemies by flight 
or by cunning. 

Some writers have maintained, that the external ear of 
animals is intended as an ornament, and not as a useful or 
necessary part of the organ of hearing. This opinion has 



been supported by the statement that the hearing of the horse 
or dog is not injured by cropping. No proof, however, can 
be given of this. That the sense of hearing continues after a 
portion of the external ear has been removed there is no 
doubt, but that it is unimpaired we have no evidence. The 
remarks which have already been made on the external ear 
will be sufficient to prove, that this opinion is not founded in 
fact ; and although the human ear is incapable of motion 
like that of other animals^ yet it is provided with muscles 
which, acting upon its several parts, dilate and contract the 
opening of the meatus, and have some action on the tympa- 
num. That the auricle is of secondary importance in hearing 
is evident from a variety of circumstances, and not least from 
its exposure ; for we find that in all cases the delicate por- 
tions of an organ most important as a medium in producing 
sensation, are protected. Still it has a purpose in the col- 
lection of sounds even in man, who is not able to give it 
motion. Were it not for the power which some animals 
have of giving motion to the external ear^ ** many of the infe- 
rior animals would be left without some of their most valuable 
endowments. The dog, for example, when he loses the scent, 
but not the sound of his master, would never be able to find 
him out without this admirable provision. When so situated, 
we observe that he immediately raises his head, shuts his 
mouth, erects his auriculae, and has their concave surfaces 
directed generally forwards. Then he may be considered 
as listening with the greatest attention, and in the very best 
position for that purpose ; for by raising his head he becomes 
enabled to receive the anticipated effect with great facility ; 
by shutting his mouth the anterior auris muscle of each auricle 


becomes enabled to dilate the orifice of its corresponding 
meatus extemus to the utmost extent ; and by erecting his 
auriculae, with their concayities directed forwards, he becomes 
enabled to collect all the properties of sounds, including of 
course those which relate to its locality. The same remarks 
are, with yery little exception, applicable to the hare, rabbit, 
fox^ cat, and indeed to every animal which makes extensive 
use of its auricle*," 

The use of the meatus is evident. It is a tube conducting 
to the tympanum, and must be of importance in regulating 
the intensity and softening the quality of sounds. The phy- 
siology of the membrana tympani will be more appropriately 
considered after we have explained the anatomical construc- 
tion of the internal ear. 


Anatomists are accustomed to divide the internal ear into 
two parts, the tympanum and the labyrinth. 

Immediately behind the thin elastic membrane, of which 
we have already spoken as dividing the extenial and internal 
ear, there is an irregular oblong cavity about half an inch in 
width, called the tympanum. This cavity communicates with 
the mouth by a small duct, H I (fig. 3), called the eustachian 
tube. It is bounded externally by the membrana tympani, and 
internally by an osseous septum separating it from the labyrinth. 
It was once supposed that deafness would result from the 
stoppage of the eustachian tube ; but from the experiments 

■" ■ - -^1 I I !■■ » I I I M I ■ I I ■■■ ■■ ■ I I ■ . . I ■^ ■ ■ .»■ ■ I ■■ — ^— i^— ^— — I, I . ^ 

* Tod's Anatomy of the Ear, p. 41. 


of Dr. WoUaston, ^hich we shall presently have occasion to 
mention, it is only to sounds of a certsdn pitch. 

The bones of the tympanum form a curious and compli- 
cated apparatus. They are usually said to be four in number, 
and have received names agreeing, it is supposed, with their 
peculiar forms. S C (fig. 4) is called the malleus, or hammer. 

Fig. 4. 

which is so placed that its smaller end comes into contact with 
B P, the incus, or anvil, and V is the stapes, or stirrup, the 
last two being connected with a small round bone, P, called 
by anatomists the os orbiculare. There are however, according 
to the writers on whom we may best depend, but three bones 
in the human subject, for the os orbiculare is but a process of 
the incus, though in the horse and other animals it may be 
distinctly seen as a separate bone. These bones form a chain, 
and are supposed to communicate the vibrations excited upon 
the membrane of the tympanum. This, however, is probably 
not the only use of the curious chain of bones ; for when the 
tympanum is destroyed, and the whole apparatus consequently 
hangs loose, hearing is not destroyed. 

The septum tympani separates the tympanum and the laby- 
rinth, which is an extraordinary system of canals formed in 
the bony cavity of the skull. 



The labfiinth Ib dirided by anatoinUts into three part^- 
the Teglibulum, cochlea, and semicircular canals; "and to 
theae maj be itdded an appendix called the aqucductni 
Mopii." Tbeie are repreaented in Gg. 5 : n is the veeti- 

bulum, which is of an iiTegular curvilineaT triangular figure, 
in appearance resembling the bodj of a common padlock, 
and about the size oF a decorticated grain of barley ;" bi 
represents the superior semicircular canali i c c the posterior 
semicirculBr canals; dd the infeiior semicircular canals ; t 
is the common canal, and / its orifice ; g is the situation of 
the fenestra rotunda ; h is the scala tympaoi i t the tcala 
vestibuli ; m the cupola. TTie whole caritj of the labyrinth 
is filled with a lluid into which the branches of the auditory 


nerve are brought. This fluid is evidently as important to 
the organ of hearing as the fluids of the eye are to the pro- 
duction of sight ; for if by any means the membrane which 
encloses the labyrinth should be pierced^ and the liqmd be 
allowed to escape, deafness is the necessary result 

The membrana tympani, which, as we have already stated, 
may be considered as the division between the external and 
internal ear, has, it cannot be doubted, an important office in 
the organ of which it forms a part. It is intimately connected 
with the malleus, and through that bone with all the other 
parts of the internal apparatus. The form, character, posi- 
tion, and texture, of this membrane have led anatomists and 
philosophers to suppose, that it receives the vibrations excited 
by a sounding body, and conveys them to the malleus^ and 
the other smaller bones with which it is connected. It Is also 
a remarkable fact, that the memlurane is situated a little oblique 
in reference to the meatus, but less so in man than in those ani- 
mals to whom an acuteness of hearing is of importance. The 
object of this is evidently, that as large a surface as possible 
should be presented to the action of the vibrating substance, 
and the extent of surface is proportioned to the wants of the 
animal. None of the organs are so fully developed in man, 
that animals cannot be found possessing a more perfect organ- 
ization. The reason of this is evident : animals are governed 
by their senses, and according to their acuteness is the fitness 
of the animal to the circumstances in which he is placed. 
The physical strength and power of flight possessed by the 
eagle^ would be useless expenditures of divine skill if the bird 
were not also furnished with a quick and penetratiug eye. 
The defenceless hare, pursued by man and animals, would 


be in a state inferior to most other creatures, if it had not a 
quickness of hearing warning it of approaching danger. But 
man, the master of all, possesses an improveable reason, by 
which he is regulated more than by his senses. Yet it is worthy 
remark, that his senses also are not only capable of, but require 
exercise, and their acuteness increases in proportion to their 
use. The child is at first quite unable to judge of distances, 
and, according to the opinions of some writers, perceives 
everything inverted ; but the eye that is thus deceived may 
be destined to watch and reveal the most occult processes of 
nature. The ear may be alive to none but the most simple 
sounds, but may afterwards be tuned to the appreciation of 
the most scientific and intricate music. 

There may also be another reason for the oblique position 
of the membrana tympani ; preventing it ** from being injured 
by the actions which any violent impulses might have pro- 
duced, and enabling it to respond to the various sounds with 
great facility ." 

Allusion has been already made to the office of the small 
bones called the ossicula auditus ; but as we do not feel at 
liberty to express an opinion of our own upon questions which 
require for their determination an extensive acquaintance with 
anatomy, we may be permitted one other quotation, referring 
the reader to the work from which it is taken. These bones 
" are the most delicate and the most perfect osseous structures 
in the body, and the least susceptible of disease. From 
their intimate connexion with the membrana tympani and 
fenestra ovalis^ and with each other ; from their zigzag posi- 
tion and their numerous muscles ; from the nature of their 
articulations ; and from their being under the influence of a 



singfle nerve— the chorda tympani ; we cannot doubt that 
they are capable of being moved in a variety of directions ; 
that their motions are regular, and that these are productive 
of effects essential to the development of many phenomena 
appertsdning to hearing. When, therefore, an action is pro- 
duced in the membrana tympani, a certdn effect most fol- 
low ; the whole of the muscular structures of the tympanum 
must be immediately called into action, and the ossicula 
auditus drawn into certain positions, each of which must pro- 
duce a particular effect on the membrane of the fenestra 
ovalis. Every one of these actions and effects must harmo* 
nize with each other, and of course partake of the nature of 
that action which is produced in the membrana tympani. It 
is not by the action of any single part or texture of the appa- 
ratus tympani, that the effect required by nature for particular 
ends can be produced, but by the uniform co-operation of 
all the textures which enter into the composition of this appa- 
ratus. Every part must, whilst it possesses its own percipient 
principle, perform in its turn, its own particular functions, 
before the required effect can be produced in the membrane 
of the fenestra ovalis. That these conclusions are just, is 
obvious, from the situation of the apparatus of the tympanum ; 
from the absence of this apparatus being invariably attended 
with congenital deafness^ and from the absence of the power 
of hearing during sleep */* 

The magnitude and figure of the cavity behind the tym- 
panum are so various, that no one can doubt that they have 
relation to the acuteness of the organ of hearing. In the 

• Tod'« Oiigan of Hearing, p. 47. 


dogf cat, hare, and other animals, the cavity is large ; but in 
what manner the increase of size produces an increased power 
of hearing, physiologists are unable to determine. 

We must now close our account of what has been advanced 
by others concerning the organ of hearing, by one or two 
remarks upon the physiology of the labyrinth. The special 
object of the various parts of the internal ear is but little 
understood, and particularly of that part to which we now 
refer. Anatomists do not pretend to assign any particular 
use to the several parts ; and speaking of the labyrinth as a 
whole, they can only say that it is intended to assist in some 
way the sense of hearing. Nature is economical in all her 
arrangements ; and it is as impossible that there should be any 
thing superfluous in her works, as that there should be any 
thing inappropriate. We are ill acquainted with the offices of 
the several parts of the human ear, but that they are all 
necessary for the formation of a perfect organ is proved by 
experiment, and deduced from our knowledge of the universal 
operations of the God of nature. 





In the last chapter we attempted to explsdn the manner in 
which sound is conducted by fluid media, and the nature of 
those substances said to be sonorous. Our next object b to 
determine the velocity of sound. 

The velocity with which sounds are propagated must de* 
pend upon the nature of the substances conveying them. It 
may be readily supposed, that the undulations are more rapid 
in some media than in others, A free and almost instanta- 
neous transit may be given by one substance, and by another 
the passage may be slow ; opposed by its physical, consti- 
tution at every step. The difficulty of assuming the undo* 
latory form, the extent of surface influenced, and the freedom 
of motion between the ultimate particles, must have an in- 
fluence upon the conducting power. The deadening influ* 
ence of media of unequal densities has been already alluded 
to. When the vibrations are made to traverse effervescing 
liquids, the sounds lose all their clearness of tone, and be- 
come heavy noises. So when the vibration enters one me- 
dium after another, traversing water for instance after its 
passage through air, the intensity of sound is lost. In speak- 
ing, therefore, of the velocity of sound through the media 
we may select as examples, it must be remembered that they 
are supposed to be homogeneous. 


It is scarcely necessary to remark, that sound requires 
time for its transmission from one place to another. Some 
ancient philosophers illustrated the motion of light, by com- 
paring it to the progress of a small stick pushed at one end, 
and moving at the same moment through its whole length. 
If sound had a direct motion in right lines, this would not 
be an inappropriate comparison, fbr the motion throughout 
is not instantaneous ; although the lengths which we are ac- 
customed to experiment on are so small, that the interval 
between the blow and the motion of the extreme point is 
insensible. But if the sun and the earth were the extremes 
of a bar, a motion communicated at one end, would not, it 
is said, be felt at the other in less than 1074 days. ! 

Every one knows that the lightning is seen before the 
thunder is heard ; and the report of a gun discharged at a 
distance, strikes the ear after the flash has ceased to affect 
the eye. ' These, and many other instances of the same kind 
which will be immediately suggested to the mind of the 
reader, prove that sound has a progpressive motion. But it 
is not so easy to determine its velocity. The experiment is 
one reqwring in all cases extreme accuracy, and the omission 
of one element of disturbance will affect with essential enors 
the results that are obtsdned. 

Air being the medium by which sound is commonly con- 
ducted to the ear^ our first experiments would naturally be 
directed to ascertain the velocity of transmission by the at- 
mosphere. To solve this problem, we must enter upon a 
course of experiments, and the manner in which they are per- 
formed is of the highest importance. They must evidently 
'be founded on the fact, that the progress of light is so rapid 


that at short distances it maybe said instantaneous. 
Now if we can accurately determine the instant at which we 
see the flash of a gun fired by a person standing at a known 
distance from us, and the instant when we hear the report, 
the velocity of sounds supposing that of light to be unit, will 
be at once determined. This plan has been pursued by all who 
have endeavoured to measure the velocity of sound : but for 
want of sufficient care, and accurate instruments^ the results 
obtained by the early experimenters were excessively entK 

The first thing will of course be to select some level pliun^ 
and, fixing upon two stations, to measure the distance between, 
them with great accuracy. At one station the sound is to be 
produced, and at the other the observations are to be made. 
The discharge of some fire-arm is in all probability the best 
means of producing the sound ; for being attended with a 
flash, the exact instant of explosion can be more sitcurately. 
ascertained than by any other means. 

The difficulty most felt in performing experiments on the 
velocity of sound, was, in the measurement of that interval 
which elapsed between seeing the flash and hearing the 
sound. An error of a small fraction of a second would be suf- 
ficient to derange the result considerably. The most accurate 
experiments ever made were conducted at almost the same 
time in the years 1822 and 1823, by Moll and Vanbeck in 
Holland, and Arrago, Matthieu^ and others, in France. The 
Dutch philosophers used a clock most accurately constructed 
with an index hand, so formed that it could be stopped at any 
moment without stopping the clocks and registering to the 
one hundredth part of a second. The French academiciana 


employed a watch^ one hand of which revolved round the 
face in a second of time, and was furnished with a sort of 
dotting-pen containing printer's ink, so that by pressing upon 
a small lever a mark was left which could afterwards be read 
off with great accuracy. *' By the use of these instruments, 
it was found practicable to ascertun the interval between the 
sight of the flash, and the arrival of the report of a gun, with 
such precision, as to destroy all material error in the result 
which might arise from this cause ; an improvement of great 
importance, when we consider that an error of a single tenth 
of a second in the measurement of time is equivalent to 110 
feet in that of distance." When this is considered, it will 
no longer be a matter of surprise, that the results obtsdned 
by the early experimenters were far away from the truth. 

But there was one other cause of inaccuracy :— the di- 
rection and velocity of the wind was seldom estimated. It 
must be quite evident, that the progress of the sound 
would be retarded if moving in a direction opposite to that 
of the wind, and aided if moving in the same. To pre- 
vent any error ft'om this source, the experiments should 
either be performed when the air is quite still, or the sta- 
tions should be so placed that the sound may travel in a 
direction at right angles to the wind. This seems to have 
been altogether lost sight of by those who first attempted 
to determine the velocity of sound. 

Modem inquirers have also thought it necessary to esiU 
mate with great precision the hygprometrical condition of the 
atmosphere, and its temperature. In taking the mean of a 
series of experiments, it is therefore customary to make 


such corrections as shall give the velocity in dry air at the 
freezing temperature. 

Previous to the experiments made in the year 1823, there 
was great uncertainty as to the velocity of sound in air. The 
results obtained by different persons varied from 1,100 to 
1^175 feet in a second. The question has now been en- 
tirely set at rest^ in consequence of the close approximation 
of three distinct series of experiments. Arrago estimates the 
velocity at 1086.1 feet in a second, Moll and Vanbeck at 
1089.42, Dr. Olinthus Gregory at 1088.05. We may there- 
fore take the mean of these results, and consider it as settled, 
that in dry dr at the freezing temperature, sound moves with 
a velocity of 1,088 feet in a second. 

We must now proceed to speak of the experiments which 
have been made with a view to determine the velocity of 
sound in water. By far the most accurate with which we are 
acquainted, were those conducted by M. Colladon in 1826^ but 
some, not unworthy of notice, were also performed by lii. 
Beudant, at Marseilles. The last-mentioned gentleman per- 
formed his experiments in the following manner :— Two boats 
were fixed at a known distance from each other ; an observer 
attended by a diver was stationed in each boat: when 
the diver at one station was in the water, a bell was rung 
at the other, and a signal was given by him as soon as he 
heard it. The mean result of a number of experiments 
made in this manner, gave sound a velocity of 4,921 feet in 
a second. 

M. Colladon exhibited great ingenuity in the manner of 
performing his experiments ; and no situation could have 


been more suited for his purpose than the Lake 6eneta> 
where they were performed. Talung the mean of forty-four 
experiments, he comes to the conclusion, that at a temper- 
ature of about 46^ degrees of Fahrenheit, sound moves in 
water with a Telocity of 4,708 feet in a second. At present 
there is no means of testing the accuracy of this result by 
comparing it with others. There b a considerable difference 
between the estimate he has formed and that of M. Beudant» 
but the circumstances under which the experiments in the 
two cases were performed are so different, that both may be 
accurate. No course of observations on this subject can be 
of any value in which the direction and velocity of the cup* 
rent, if any, the purity of the water, its specific gravity and 
temperature, the height of the barometer, and many other 
such deranging agents, are not carefully registered. 

From an estimate of the compressibility of different 
liquids, M. Colladon endeavours to calculate the velocity with 
which they conduct sound ; for further information, however, 
the reader must refer to the original memoir, as we must pro- 
ceed to make a few remarks on the velocity with which sound 
is conducted by elastic solids. 

The only important experiments yet made on the trans- 
mission of sound by a solid, were conducted by M. Biot. 
When the cast-iron pipes were laidjn Paris for the convey- 
ance of water, this celebrated and talented philosopher took 
the opportunity of making several important experiments, 
and especially those the results of which are now to be stated. 
The pipes are together about 3,120 feet long, forming a con- 
tinuous channel. Each length was 8^ feet, and the several 
portions were united by flanches with lead collars. There 


were two methods of determining the question open to thd 
experimenters. The obserrations of Herhold and Rafn upon 
the transmission of sound by a metallic wire 600 feet long, 
have been already referred to ; and also a curious fact noticed 
by them, that sound was heard twice, once as conducted by 
the wire, and afterwards as transmitted by the air. The same 
would of course happen in the experiments of Biot, and to 
ascertain the interval between hearing the sound by the pipe 
and by the air, would be to determine the velocity of trans- 
mission in iron, the distance and velocity in air being known. 
Another method of obtaining the same result would be, to 
ascertain the precise moment when the blow was struck at 
one end and heard at the other, and the interval would give 
the time required for transmission. Taking the mean of 
numerous experiments, it was ascertained that sound moves 
in cast iron at the temperature of nearly 52° Fahr., at the 
rate of 11,090 in a second. 

Chladni has attempted to deduce the velocity of sound in 
various solids, taking that in air as unity. In glass, and iron< 
he says, it is equal to 17, in copper 12, in silver 9, in tin 7i« 
Too much dependance must not be placed upon these results^ 
for in the case of iron, experiment has proved them far from 

The subject of which we have been speaking, is one of 
those which has no very evident application to what are 
called useful purposes. There are many persons who limit 
the advantages of philosophy, to its direct assistance in those 
arts most necessary for the comfort or support of man. The 
enthusiastic energy of the man who delights to examine the 
wonders of material existence, hidden from the careless or 


lAsilal observer, appears to them as the madness of genius 
or the folly of an aspirant. Mankind, however, are aided 
by a thousand indirect streams flowing from the fountam of 
oatural knowledge. The brilliant arch which spans the 
heavens when the sun peers through the watery cloud that 
has .refreshed the earth with showers, is as much a part of 
the present state of physical existence, as the rotation of the 
earth on its axis producing day and night, or its revolution 
iround the sun producing the seasons. It would perhaps be 
difficult to discover any advantage which we as creatures 
derive from this splendid object ; unless we consider it as an 
emblem of peace, a holy pledge to the promise that seed- 
time and harvest shall not fail ; but it would be as easy to 
show, that the existence of those physical principles by which 
it is produced are of the highest importance. So the results 
of philosophic inquiry, if we may compare small things with 
great, having no evident influence upon the happiness of 
man, may embody principles from which may be drawn arts 
that in relation to society have an active vitality. 

It is not perhaps easy to determine what ulterior advantage 
would be derived from ascertaining the relative power, pos- 
sessed by difierent substances, of conducting sound. We 
have often thought, that this, and many similar subjects, may, 
at some future period, throw considerable light upon the 
constitution of bodies. The inquiries so zealously pursued 
in recent times to determine the conducting power of sub- 
stances in relation to heat and electricity, are directing us 
to investigations which were once thought to be beyond the 
power of man. The reader will not imagine that any equally 
curious inquiries would necessarily be suggested by ascertain- 


ing the power of different substances in the transmission of 
sound. But it is possible, that there may be found a con- 
nexion between this and other properties of matter, calcu* 
lated to aid the most refined philosophical studies. Inde- 
pendent of this, the student will feel interested in the know* 
ledge^ for its own sake ; and as the information already 
collected bears no proportion to that desired by all who are 
interested in scientific research, it ofiers an opportunity to 
every young experimenter of acquiring facility of examina- 
tion, accuracy of observation, and ingenuity of invention, 
and at the same time of enlarging the boundary of science. 




There are many interesting particulars having reference to 
the transmission and progress of sound which will require 
notice, and cannot be conveniently introduced except in a 
separate chapter. This will be the most appropriate place 
for their introduction, as many of the truths to be subse- 
quently explained, rest in fact upon some of these. The ^ 
reader may, perhaps, at first imagine that there is no very 
intimate connexion between the subjects of this chapter ; but 
a slight consideration of their relations will prove, that they 
are not inappropriately introduced in the same place. 


The whole science of music may, in one sense, be said to 
depend on the fact, that all sounds have the same velocity. 
If the velocity of sound changed with the pitch, nothing but 
fUacoid would be heard by one who listened to music at a 
diatance. On a still night, music may be heard far away, and 
espedally if the performers and listeners be separated by 
water, and yet the harmony is preserved. The time re- 
qmred for conduction is altogether independent of the pitch. 
Imagine it to be otherwise ; suppose the high notes to move 
faster than the lower ones, and what a chaos of sound would 


be produced by the performance of a large band. We may, 
however, stand at any distance, and can discover no want of 
harmony from this cause ; there are no notes which are 
running before^ and none that are lagging behind : they are all 
of the same relative duration, and separated by the same 
interval of time, at a distance where they can be only just 
heard, and on the spot where drawn from the instruments 
that gave them birth. 


Although all sounds have the same velocity, they have not 
at ways an equal intensity. The same sound may deafen 
with its loudness, or tire vnth its faintness ; but whether it 
be the softest tone that is breathed from the flute, or the 
loudest that is forced from the org^n, the velocity is alwaya 
the same. The intensity of a sound varies, as we shall have 
occasion hereafter to explain, with the distance, and gradu- 
ally dies away. Distances may often be determined by the 
effect of sound upon the organ of hearing. By habit we are 
accustomed to certain sounds, and by their intensity we 
judge of the distance at which they are produced. Thus, we 
say that one person is near and another is distant, by the 
different effects produced by their voice. But some men 
have the power of deception in this particular, and can so 
speak, that the hearers shall suppose the sound at one moment 
to be from another room, and at the next immediately behind 
them. We may also judge erroneously of distance, when 
we hear a sound with which we are unacquainted. An indi- 
vidual who should hear the sound of thunder for the first 


time, would be unable to form any conception of its distance ; 
tod indeed there are few persons who, although accustomed 
to hear it, can gun any more particular idea of the distance 
than is comprised in the vague expression " very near" or *' far 

We may also be deceived in estimating distance by the inten- 
sity of well-known sounds, in consequence of an unusual state 
of the conducting medium. An impure and misty state of 
the atmosphere deadens sound ; an uniformly dense medium 
gives it a clearer tone, and apparently a greater intensity. The 
general principle has been alluded to in a previous chapter ; 
and a few remarkable instances of the conduction of sound to 
great distances, may now be mentioned. 

Lieutenant Foster, who attended Captain Parry in his 
third polar expedition, says, that he has conversed with a 
man across Port Bowen, which is a distance of about a mile 
and a quarter. This is an instance which supports the com* 
mon opinion, that sounds are heard with great clearness when 
transmitted by a frosty atmosphere. A smooth surface of 
water is also said to be remarkably favourable to the con- 
duction of sound ; and some common instances of this must 
have occurred within the experience of all * our readers. 
Derham states, that at Gibraltar, the human voice has been 
heard at a distance of ten miles. Dr. Hearn heard, in 1685, 
the guns fired at Stockholm, when two hundred miles distant ; 
and it is authenticated, that the cannonade between the 
English and the Dutch, in 1672, was heard in Wales, more 
than two hundred miles from the place of action. These 
instances, however wonderful, cannot be compared with that 
recorded by Sir Stamford Raffles. The eruption of Tomboro, 


in Sumbawa, was perhaps an instance of more violent vol- 
canic action, than was ever before known to man. So load 
were the detonations, and so favourable the state of the 
atmosphere, that the occasional paroxysms were heard more 
than nine hundred miles distant 

It is, we believe, generally known, that sounds are trans- 
mitted with great clearness over large bodies of ice and 
smooth water ; and some few experiments have been made, 
to determine how far the human voice may be heard under 
favourable circumstance. Mr. King, who accompanied Captain^ 
Back as naturalist in the recent expedition, has informed xu, 
that he often saw the natives conversing together at a distance 
of from half to three-fourths of a mile. 

Defham, in his Physico-Theology, mentions a few instances 
of the transmission of sound to great distances. The sound 
of guns fired by his wish for the purpose of experiment at 
Florence, was heard by persons in Leghorn, a distance of 
fifty-five miles. At the time of the experiment, the air was 
calm ; but as a hilly and wooded country intervenes between 
the two stations, sound might, in all probability, be heard at 
a much greater distance under more favourable circumstances. 
The Leghorn guns, he says, on the authority of other persons* 
are heard at Porto Ferraro, a distance of sixty-six miles. 
When the French bombarded Genoa, the sound was heard 
at a place near Leghorn, a distance of ninety miles ; and in 
the Messina insurrection, the guns were heard at Augusta and 

These instances of the transmission of sound to great 
distances, seem to have been noticed by Derham in conse* 
quence of a doubt once entertained, whether the situation 


of a place in reference to latitude, had any effect upon 
the distance at which a sound may be heard. ** These dis- 
tances/' he says, " being so considerable, give me reason to 
suspect, that sounds fiy as far, or nearly as far, in the 
southern as in the northern parts of the world, notwith- 
standing we have a few instances of sound reaching farther 
distances. Also, there is this other reason of suspicion, 
that the mercury in the barometer riseth higher without than 
within the tropics, and the more northerly, still the higher, 
which may increase the strength of sounds.** It is, however, 
we imagine, quite impossible to determine any law of trans- 
mission dependent on latitude. In a northern district, the 
air may be almost habitually so loaded with vapour as to 
stifle sound, and in a southern so clear that, even when rarified, 
it shall be easily conducted. The condition of the atmosphere 
therefore, altogether independent of place, is an important 

The distance at which a sound may be heard will also 
depend upon another condition — the degree of divergence 
produced. The intensity of a sound is soon lost, under 
ordinary circumstances, by the spreading which it suffers. 
When a meteor bursts, or a gun is discharged, the sound 
diverges, and is not heard in any one direction more than 
another. This spreading of a sound must of necessity dimin- 
ish its intensity, and in a proportion greater than the distance. 
The intensity of sound decreases, or so it would appear from 
calculation, as the square of the distance increases. 

Now from these remarks it follows, that by preventing the 
divergence of the sound, we must increase the intensity at any 
given distance, and consequently cause it to be heard at 


places which it [could not otherwise reach. A common ear- 
trumpet acts upon this principle. It is a tube, with one open* 
iug so small as to be easily placed in the ear, and the other 
is, in comparison, very large. Its object is to make sounds 
proceeding from short distances audible to deaf persons, and 
is admirably suited for this purpose. The diverging sounds 
proceeding from the human voice are gathered together, if 
we may so speak, by the large opening ; and the concen« 
trated effect of the sounds, which are no longer at liberty to 
spread, is produced upon the ear. 

Mr. Curtis, aurist to her Majesty, has recently greatly im- 
proved this instrument. The common trumpet is in very 
many cases found to have an effect by no mean proportional 
to the amount of hindrance that a person may have to 
the exercise of the organ of hearing. The instrument then 
becomes altogether useless. It is also inconvenient and 
exceedingly troublesome. These objections have, we think, 
been removed, and for the future Mr. C urtis's improvement 
will be preferred. 

The speaking trumpet is not an instrument of modem in- 
vention, but has been from time to tim e altered and made 
more convenient. Alexander the Great is said to have had a 
tube, by the use of which a man might make himself heard 
at the distance of one hundred stadia. Kirch er is in all pro- 
bability the modem inventor ; but this honour is, by some 
writers, given to Sir Samuel Morland. Kircher says, in his 
"Phonurg," that he invented the tromba twenty-four years 
before it was described by Morland, and published it in his 
" Misurgia." One of these he had in his chamber in the 
Roman College, and by its means could make himself heard 


to the porter, and receive answers to any questions he pro** 
posed. He also informs us, that he took a trumpet fifteen 
palms in length to the Mons Eustachianus, where he assem- 
bled two thousand persons to prayers by its assistance, some 
of them coming from a distance of five Italian miles. There 
is but little doubt that Kircher was the inventor of the 
tromba ; but whether Sir Samuel Morland was acqusdnted 
with the invention previous to the publication of his own 
description, may be fairly doubted. 

We might give numerous other instances in which the in- 
tensity of sound is preserved by similar means. Speaking 
tubes are now commonly carried from one apartment to 
another in large buildings ; and with their assistance, persons 
may communicate with each other at distances to which the 
human voice could not otherwise reach. A series of pipes 
might be so arranged through a number of apartments, as to 
carry orders from one office to another without any personal 
interview, and at the same time to confine the information to 
that one place where it is required. The lateral divergence 
of sound is such, that we may suppose the sides of the pipes to 
be acted upon by the dr ; and consequently if an opening 
be formed in a side, the sound will be heard there as well 
as at the end. We may then suppose, that in consequence 
of the condensadon of the air during the propagation of 
sound, the wave has both a lateral and a forward motion. Of 
this we have many examples in familiar musical instruments. 

There seems to be scarcely any limit to the dbtances at 
which sounds may be heard, when propagated through tubes. 
M. Biot states, that the faintest whisper uttered at one end 
of the Paris conduit-pipes, could be heard dbtinctly at the 



Other, a diiitaace of 3,130 feet. We have no doobt that 
pipet might be louraoged, m togireiuialiiuMt inatantaneont 
commuQication between ikil the govemnient office*, which 
would save much time, and lie in manj' initancei of the 
greatest impoTtance. 

Mr. Curtis, of Soho-square, has inronted an acoustic diair, 
(Rg. 6,) for the benefit of the incurable deaf ; it has, howerer. 

another purpose, for " by means of additional tubes," says the 
inTcntor, " the person seated in it maj hear distinct] j, while 
sitting perfectly at ease, whatever transpires in any apartment 
from which the pipes are carried to the chur i being an im- 


proved application of the principles of the speaking pipes now 
in general use. The chair is of the size of a large library one, 
and has a high back, to which are affixed two barrels for 
sound, so constructed as not to appear unsightly ; and at 
the extremity of each barrel is a perforated plate, which 
collects sound into a paraboloid vase, from any part of the 
room. The instrument thus contrived gathers sound, and im- 
presses it more sensibly, by giving to it a small quantity of 
wr. The convex end of the vase serves to reflect the voice, 
and render it more distinct. Further, the air enclosed in 
the tube, being also excited by the voice, communicates its 
action to the ear, which thus receives a stronger impression 
from the articulated voice, or indeed from any other sound." 

From these remarks it will appear, that the distance at 
which a sound may be heard, will depend on the state of the 
medium conducting it, and the surface over which it passes, 
and also on the divergence it suffers. Evidence has been 
given of the increased intensity produced by the transit of 
sounds through tubes which prevent the divergence, and 
consequentiy retard the decay. There is yet one other fact 
deserving our attention, before we proceed to another subject 

Although sounds are usually propagated in every direction 
by an. elastic medium, diverging from what may be called 
the sonorous centre, there are instances in which this does 
not happen. One example wUl be sufficient in illustration. 
Dr. Young has explained an interesting experiment he made 
with a tuning-fork, and it has been also mentioned by Sir 
John Herschel. A tuning-fork (fig. 7) is a piece of steel in 
the form of a pair of sugar-tongs, to which is attached a 
handle of the same metaL When either of the branches is 


Reflection of sound. 

struck against a resisting substance, both are put into a state 
of vibration, and sound is produced. A tuning-fork is ge- 
nerally so formed as to give a musical sound of a particular 


Fig. 7. 
pitch ; and when a musical instrument cannot be obtained, is 
sometimes used to direct the voice to the key in which a 
composition is to be sung. Now if this compound vibrating 
bar be held in a vertical direction, as shown in the diagram, 
about a foot from the ear, and be gradually turned on its 
axis, a considerable alteration in the intensity of the sound 
vidll be detected in one revolution. When the plane surfaces 
are turned towards the ear, the sounds will be distinct and 
clear ; but when the open sides are in the same position, the 
sound will be scarcely audible. Here then we have an in- 
stance in which the sound is not propagated by divergence 
in every direction, and many others might be adduced. 


Having considered the circumstances under which the 
intensity of sound is destroyed, or suffers decay^ we may 
proceed to illustrate the conditions under which sound is re- 
flected. By the ordinary propagation in atmospheric air, the 
sound is at some point lost by divergence and consequent 


decay ; but the same effect may happen from other causes. 
A sound may be stifled by meeting with media of different 
densities ; or its course may be interrupted by reflection. To 
the former we have already alluded, and must now direct our 
attention to the latter. 

i If heat and light are capable of reflection, it need not be a 
matter of surprise, that sound should suffer the same effect. 
The organs of touch, sight, and hearing, are all supposed to 
be acted upon in the same manner, and the agency to be 
similar. Heat and light are said to arise from Tibratory 
motion, of what is not so evident as some persons would 
persuade us to believe ; and all inquirers are agreed, that 
sound is ordinarily produced by the vibratory motions im- 
pressed upon atmospheric air. Whatever the agent may be 
whose undulations produce light and heat, the motion is 
capable of reflection ; and if an agent so subtle can suffer such 
an impediment to motion, it is not singular that one, of whose 
existence we have almost tangible evidence, should be acted 
on in the same way. We might in fact have deduced, from 
our knowledge of the origin of sound, that reflection would 
be produced whenever it meets with a hard plane surface. 
The fact, however, does not rest upon any argument, for we 
have the evidence in that phenomenon called echo. 

In tracing the effects of substances upon heat and light, it is 
found that by some they are absorbed,and by others'transmitted 
or reflected, according to circumstances. A piece of polished 
metal resists altogether the progress of light, and throws 
back nearly all the rays that fall upon it ; a piece of thick 
black cloth absorbs them, and a plate of glass transmits them. 
Neither of these effects perhaps can exist alone ; in most 


instances they have a simultaneous existence. Of the rays of 
light falling upon a thin plate of glass, some are reflected and 
some absorbed^ but the greater number are refracted. When 
the thickness of the glass is increased, more rays will be ab- 
sorbed and less refracted. Processes of a very similar nature 
are going on in reference to sound. By some substances it 
is absorbed, or more properly, stifled, by some transmitted, 
and by others reflected ; and, as in light, all these effects may 
be occasioned by the same substance. The sound of a mu- 
sical instrument in a room is reflected from all sides, and yet 
a part is evidently transmitted, as it may be heard by a persoo 
at a distance from the apartment i but as it is not heard so 
distinctly as it would be at the same distance in the room, a 
part is absorbed. 

The similarity in regard to light and sound may be carried 
still further. In both cases there are some substances more 
favourable to reflection than others, and the principal law of 
reflection is the same in both instances, the angle of incidence 
being equal to the angle of reflection. 

Echo, or repetition, is the effect of a reflection of sound, and 
yet this is a comparatively rare phenomenon, and wisely so. 
It may be attributed to the velocity with which sounds move ; 
for even where a plain surface of sufficient extent is favour- 
ably situated for the production of echo, the distance is in 
ordinary circumstances so small, that the original sound and 
the echo are blended. If the motion had been slow, we 
should have been subject, especially in large buildings, to a 
repetition of every sound, an annoyance and interference to 
which even habit could scarcely have reconciled either a 
speaker or a hearer. 


Echo is, however, a phenomenon sufficiently common, to 
render it almost unnecessary to give examples except of some 
peculiar cases. Instances are known in which the repetition 
is made several times successively. It may be easily imagined 
that two or more surfaces may be so placed, that a sound re- 
flected by one shall be returned by another, and the echo be 
thus repeated until the sound shall entirely die away. 

In Woodstock Park^ near Oxford, there is an echo which 
repeats seventeen syllables by day and twenty by night. 
The reason why it repeats more syllables by night than by 
day, says an old writer, is because the dr being colder at 
that time is more dense ; and therefore the return of the first 
vibrations being slower, gives time for the repetition of more 
syllables. This is certsunly a most curious explanation, and 
one we can scarcely imagine to be sufficient to account for 
the phenomenon. It appears to us much more probable that 
it would be far better accounted for by the fact, that the den« 
sity is more uniform at night than during the day, and con- 
sequently the intensity of the sound suffers a less rapid decay. 
But whatever may be the cause, there is no doubt of the fact, 
and many other similar instances of an increased number of 
repetitions during the night have been recorded by travellers 
and authors. 

Single echos, or those in which a sound is repeated once, 
are by no means uncommon ; and those in which the repe- 
titions are made many times, are too numerous to excite the 
surprise of any person when they are met with. At the se« 
pulchre of Metella, the wife of Crassus, there is an echo that 
repeats seven times. Barthius states, on his own authority, 
that on the banks of the Naha, between Coblentz and Bingen, 


there is an echo which repeats the words of a man seventeen 
times. Whereas in common echos, he says, the repetition is 
not heard till some time after hearing the word spoken, or the 
note sung ; in this, the person who speaks or sings is scarcely 
heard at all, but the repetition most clearly, and always in 
surprising varieties ; the echo seeming sometimes to approach 
nearer, and sometimes moving further off. Sometimes the 
voice is heard very distinctly, and sometimes scarcely at all. 
One hears only one voice, and another several ; one hears 
the echo on the right and the other on the left. There is 
another singular echo on the banks of the Rhine, near Lusley ; 
a representation of the place is given in the frontispiece. 

Beneath the Menai suspension bridge, close to one of the 
main piers, there is a remarkably fine echo, upon which Sir 
John Herschel and Mr. Babbage made an experiment, leading 
them to the conclusion, that " in the reflection of sound, there 
is an evident approach to the law of equality between thd 
angles of incidence and reflection, which obtains in that of 
light ; and a tendency in the reflected sound to confine itself 
to the direction which a ray of light regularly reflected at the 
echoing surface would follow, and to spread into the sur* 
rounding air equally in all directions. This experiment, we 
doubt not, would lead to remarkable confirmations of the ge- 
neral analog^y between sound and light, to which all optical 
and acoustical phenomena point" 

There is one natural phenomenon produced by the reflection 
of sound, of which it is necessary to give a description in this 
place. Thunder is a sound resulting from the spontaneous 
discharge of atmospheric electricity. The analogies between the 
eflbct of common electricity and lightning are so strong, that 


since the time of Franklin no one has ever doubted that the 
same agent is operating in both cases^ We are accustomed 
to experiment on our laboratory tables with electricity distri- 
buted oyer a few square feet of tin-foil ; in the atmosphere 
there are sometimes thousands of acres of electrified cloud. 
When the difference of quantity and also of intensity in the 
two cases is considered, there can be no surprise at the dif- 
ference in amount, or violence of the effects produced by 
lightning over those resulting from common electricity. But 
although there is so evident an identity between many of 
the effects of ordinary and atmospheric electricity, there is one 
in which they have a great dissimilarity. When a Leyden jar 
or battery is discharged, a sharp, sudden nobe is produced, 
which nught perhaps be properly called a snap. When the 
atmospheric electricity is discharged, a deep rolling sound 
follows, best described by the expressive word thunder; The 
cause of this is readily explained. During a thunder-storm 
the atmosphere is generally loaded with dense clouds. Now 
supposing the sound to be produced from one point, and to 
be a single crash, as it diverges in every direction there will 
be repeated reflections, and the sound will be reverberated 
from some surfaces that are near, and others that are far dis- 
tant, giving to the explosion that continuous, rolling sound, 
by which it is so peculiarly distinguished. 

Sir John Herschel has proposed a very curious explanation 
of thunder, to which we cannot give consent. " Let us con- 
ceive," he says, ** two flashes of lightning, each four miles 
long, both beginning at points equidistant from the auditor, 
but the one running out in a straight line directly away from 
him, the other describing an arc of a circle having him in its 


centre. Since the velocity of electricity is incomparably 
greater than that of sound, the thunder may be regarded as' 
originating at one and the same instant in every point of the 
course of either flash. But it will reach the ear under very 
different circumstances in the two cases. In that of the cim 
cular flash, the sound from every point will arrive at the same 
instant, and affect the ear as a simple explosion, with stunning 
loudness. In that of the rectilinear flash, on the other hand, 
the sound from the nearest point will arrive sooner than 
from those at a greater distance ; and those from diffejrent 
points will arrive in succession, occupying altogether a time 
equal to that required by sound to run over four miles, or 
about twenty seconds." 

In this theory it is supposed that the sound follows the 
flash, and, diverging in every direction, must of course reach 
an auditor on the surface of the earth. If this supposition be 
true, there can be no doubt of the accuracy of the theory* 
The sound however is, we imagine, produced at the point of 
discharge, and from that diverges, as when a bell is rung, or 
a cracker is exploded. The electricity, in its passage, whether 
in a direction away from the auditor, or in an arc of a circle 
around him, will condense the atmospheric mr ; and, unless 
that be supposed the origin of new sounds, we cannot con- 
ceive how Sir John Herschel's supposition can be substan- 
tiated. We may err altogether in our conception of his 
theory, but it appears to us that the sound cannot be pro- 
duced at any other than the point of discharge, and from this 
diverges in every direction, suffering reflection from every 
point, causing that roll which is the peculiar character of the 
sound. The reflected sound can never arrive first, as some 


persons have imagined ; for if that could happen, it would be 
no longer tnie> that two sides of a triangle must necessarily 
be greater than the third. The greatest intensity may be at 
one or another place, according to circumstances ; but this 
cannot, so far as we can understand the question, depend on 
the length or direction of the flash. 

The application of the principles of reflection has been 
thought of great importance in the construction of buildings. 
All places intended for public speaking and the performance 
of music, should be constructed in that form, and with those 
provisions, known to give a ready passage to sound without 
the interference of reverberation. In small apartments the 
form is of but little importance, so far as regards the pro- 
duction of echo, for the incident and reflected sounds so 
rapidly follow each other, that there is no perceptible interval 
between them ; in fact, they are brought to the ear as a single 
sound. In large buildings, on the other hand : *' In churches, 
theatres, and concert-rooms," says the author to whom we 
have already frequently referred, " the echo is heard afler the 
principal sound has ceased ; and if the building is so con- 
structed as to return several echos in very different times, the 
effect will be unpleasant. It is owing to this, that in cathedrals 
the service is usually read in a sustained, uniform tone, rather 
that of singing than speaking, the voice being thus blended 
in unison with its echo. A good reader will time his syllables^ 
if possible, so as to make one fall in with the echo of the last, 
which will thus be merged in the louder sound, and produce 
less confusion in his delivery. 

It is very difficult to direct the architect in the construction 
of a building best suited for sustaining sound. One effect 


should certainly be sought, that of obtaining reflection ; and 
one should be avoided, that of an echo from one sound 
blending with a note of a different pitch. 

Ererything that can stifle a sound should be avoided* 
Windows, deep recesses, carpets, and curtains, are in every 
respect injurious to the propagation of sound. They have 
the effect of preventing reflection, which should always be 
promoted, as a means of increasing intensity. Particular 
forms have been sometimes recommended as fit to reflect 
sounds ; but if the laws governing the reflection of sound, are 
the same as those which influence the direction of light, they 
can be of little service. It would be easy to arrange re- 
flecting surfaces of a particular form, in such a manner, that 
the speaker being in one focus and the hearer in the other« 
the sound would have great intensity ; but under ordinary 
circumstances it is required to convey sound of great intensity 
over the whole of a building, and not to concentrate the effect 
upon any one point. 

But while the architect aids the reflection of sound, he must 
be careful to prevent the possibility of an echo. This is es^ 
pecially necessary in concert-rooms, for as a number of notes 
may be struck in a short interval of time, it is possible that 
the echo of one may interfere with the original sound of 
another, and a constant discord would in this case afflict the 
ear of an auditor. 




The readiness with which the ear detects the varieties of 
sound is very remarkable. There are numerous instances in 
which the sensation discriminates, without putting us into 
possession of any means by which to communicate to another 
person the differences so readily detected by us. A friend is 
known or identified by his voice, and yet it would be impos- 
sible so to describe it, except in very remarkable instances, as 
to give a third person the means of distinguishing it from 
others. The Indian hunters are said to hear, at great dis- 
tances, sounds that have so small an intensity as to be alto- 
gether inaudible to inexperienced ears, and can frequently 
determine what is the animal by whose step the sounds are 
produced. We have been frequently struck with the great 
facility with which we, in common it is imagined with all who 
have for any length of time resided in the metropolis, can 
detect, during the night, the nature of the vehicle that is 
passing ; and especially how suddenly one is roused, even 
from a state of slumber, by the peculiar and yet indescribable 
roll of a fire-engine. 

The eye is justly said to be the most excursive organ, but 
its liability to deception bears a large proportion to the extent 
of external influence. By the organ of sight we are admitted 
to a communion with nature of a more intimate character 


than could have been conceived by beings of gpreater intelli- 
gence than man without possession of the organ. The ear, 
however, is in many respects scarcely inferior either in its 
importance to us as creatures, or in its capabilities of instruc- 
tion. Although we cannot derive from its unaided assistance 
so extensive a knowledge of external nature as from the eye, 
it offers to man, unimproved by a written language, the only 
means of receiving a knowledge of the opinions and re- 
flections of his fellows. If it be possible to imagine a state 
of society in which the individuals are enjoying the blessings 
of civilization, and possessing all the advantages resulting from 
an acquaintance with the physical sciences, and the arts at- 
tending them, and yet destitute of a written language ; it is 
quite certain that the organ of hearing would be the only 
medium of conveying the operations of one mind to another. 
Now even in the present day, and in this country, more ad- 
vanced in the general education of the people than any other, 
we may realise the supposition. The majority of the people 
can read, and have facilities of obtaining books, and yet the 
number of readers compared with the gross population, is 
exceedingly small. Knowledge even here then, is chiefly 
communicated by the agency of the organ of hearing ; it is 
the human voice which teaches best. The ease with which 
the ear detects sounds and distinguishes between them, is, 
therefore, of immense importance, altogether independent of 
its absolute necessity as a means of preserving us from innu* 
merable dangers to which we should otherwise be exposed. 

Although the varieties of sound are so numerous and so 
readily distinguished by the ear, they cannot be described, 
and we have terms for but few, and even those are generic. 


Thus we speak of a snap, a crack, a bounce, a crash, an ex* 
plosion, a rumbling. But we have no means o£ distinguishing 
between the varieties of these, except by using the name of 
the substance or thing by which it was produced. It is, 
therefore, customary to say, the crack of a whip, the explosion 
of a cannon ; and in other instances we use a comparative 
expression, as when we say, like the roll of thunder. 
- There are, however, two general expressions under which 
all sounds may be placed — noises and musical sounds. A 
noise is produced by a series of irregular impulses, and its 
character is governed by their periods and duration. If they 
be short, and succeed each other rapidly, we may have an 
explosion, or crack ; if longer and less rapid, a rumble. All 
the variety of noises may be traced to the length of interval 
between successive impulses and their duration. Yet the 
several genera^ if we may so call them, are capable of division 
into species, and habit enables the ear to detect them. There 
b, for instance, the rumbling sound of distant thunder, and of 
a carriage ; and although in some instances one may be 
mistaken for the other, in most cases they are readily dis- 

When the impulses are regular, that is to say, when tlie 
same interval of time separates them, and they are all of the 
same duration, a musical sound is produced. 

In estimating the character and peculiarities of musical 
sounds, there are three things to be considered — the intensity, 
the quality, and the pitch. The intensity of a sound, is its 
comparative loudness, and depends upon the violence of the 
impulses from which it proceeds. From any musical instru- 
ment a note may be obtained so loud as to be unpleasant to 



a hearer, or so soft as to be scarcely audible. The only dif- 
ference between the two sounds is in intensity. When the 
note obtained from two instruments is the same and of the 
same intensity, there may still be a difference between the 
tones. The organ and the flute, for instance, may be made 
to repeat precisely the same sounds and ^-ith the same inten- 
sity, yet an ear but little practised would instsmtly detect a 
cUssimilarity of character — this is called quality. Sounds pro- 
duced from the same instrument may be of different qualities. 
We can scarcely estimate how much a musical performance 
depends on the quality of the sounds. Two persons may 
play the same air, and with equal accuracy ; yet in one case 
we may be struck with the roughness of the tones, and 
in the other with their full and mellow harmony. In musical 
performances, the quality of sounds will depend partly upon 
the capabilities of the player, and partly on the instruments. 
Every one knows that some instruments are very preferable 
to others, and this is only because the sounds obtained from 
them are of a richer quality. 

The pitch is altogether independent of both intensity and 
quality, which may be different in the same sound. When 
we strike two or three, adjoining strings on the harp or the 
violin, we detect a difference in the sounds that cannot be 
attributed to either the greater loudness or sweetness of one 
than another — the sounds are in fact essentially different, they 
are not of the same pitch. When any two or more notes are 
of the same pitch, they are said to be in unison. 

We have already explained that sound is produced by vibra- 
tions excited in some sonorous substances. By successive im- 
pulses on a conducting medium, the effect is transmitted to the 


ear, and there excites the organ of sensation. A succession 
of impulses less frequent than sixteen in a second, is inca- 
pable of affecting the human ear. Sounds of different pitch, 
or in other words, different note^, are attributable to the ra- 
pidity of the vibrations. A certain number of vibrations in 
a second will always produce the same note, whatever may 
be the instrument used in obtaining the vibrations. 

For the production of a certain musical note, the sounding 
body must be in a particular state — that state, in fact, suited 
to the production of a fixed number of vibrations in equal 
times. That a string should give out, when touched, a note of 
any pitch, it must have a fixed length, tension, and density ; 
and if either of these be changed, the note is ako instantly 
altered. All these elements are important, because the num- 
ber of vibrations is regulated by them. Tuning an instrument, 
therefore, is nothing more than bringing the vibrating or 
sounding body into such a state, that a certain number of 
oscillations may be performed in a given time. 

The human ear is not sensibly affected by all sounds* 
There are some notes so low that they are indistinct mur- 
murs, and some so high that they cannot be heard at all ; in 
the one case the vibrations are slow, and in the other rapid,, 
but in both, the organ of hearing is alike incapable of trans- 
mitting the impression. 

Dr, WoUaston made some curious observations which he 
communicated to the Royal Society in the year 1820, on the 
inaudibility of certain ears to particular sounds. This very 
accurate observer discovered, that persons who have, in the 
ordinary acceptation of the phrase, a perfect bearing, may at 



the same time be completely insensible to those sounds which 
are at the extremities of the scale of musical notes. The 
loudness of the sound has, it is said, nothing to do with this 
effect ; it depends entirely upon the pitch. Deaf persons, as 
is well known, hear some sounds better than others, generally 
those which are sharp and clear. They hear women and 
children more distinctly than men. It may be remarked, 
says the Doctor, that the generality of persons accustomed 
to speak to those who are deaf, seem practically aware of 
this difference ; and, even without reflecting on the motives 
which guide them, acquire a habit of speaking to deaf per- 
sons in a shriller tone of voice, as a method by which they 
succeed in making them hear more effectually than by merely 
speaking louder. 

It appears from the memoir, an abstract of which we are 
giving, that its author was first led to the subject by a desire 
to ascertain the origin of deafness in a friend. To do this, he 
sought to decrease the sensibility of his own ear, and found 
'* that when the mouth and nose are shut, the tympanum may be 
so exhausted by a forcible attempt to take breath by expansion 
of the chest, that the pressure of the external air is strongly felt 
upon the membrana tympani; and that in this state of tension 
from external pressure, the ear becomes insensible to grave 
tones, without losing in any degree the perception of sharp 
sounds." By frequent attempts, he was able to keep the ear 
in a state of exhaustion without stopping the breath ; and 
could always restore an. equality of pressure, and consequently 
remove the partial deafness, by the act of swallowing, which 
re-opens the tube. In this way he succeeded in making his 


ear insensible to all sounds below F in the bass clef. So also 
he became unconscious of the sound produced by striking 
the table with the end of his finger, but heard the sound pro- 
duced by the nail, a sharper sound, occasioned by a quicker 
vibration of parts around the point of contact 

It is however to the limits of hearing in persons who have 
the ordinary capability of hearing sounds, that we would es- 
pecially direct the attention of the reader. In a healthy 
state of the organ, there does not seem to be any limit to the 
appreciation of low sounds. We are, as Dr. Wollaston states, 
sensible of vibratory motion, until it becomes a mere tremor, 
which may be felt, and even almost counted. 

Sounds of a higher pitch, or, as they are frequently called, 
shrill sounds, affect the ear of individuals differently. Those 
which are dbtinctly audible to one person may not be heard 
by another, and yet the hearing of both shall be quite sen- 
sible to all the ordinary sounds. Dr. Wollaston states, that 
he first became acquainted with this fact, by observing that 
certain sharp sounds, the pitch of which he wished to deter- 
mine, were not audible Ux some of his friends. Pursuing the 
train of thought and inquiry suggested by this fact, he disco- 
vered that there is a limit in every individual to the sense of 
hearing, and that the interval of a single note between two 
sounds may be the limit of audibility. The father of some 
ladies he knew, could not hear the chirping of the house- 
sparrow. This is the lowest limit to acute hearing that he 
met with, for even deafness to the chirping of the house- 
cricket, which is several notes higher, is not common. But 
the chirping of the gryllus campestris, a common inhabitant 
of the hedges during the summer, and an incessant songster 


at evening, is not unfrequently the limit of hearings and but 
seldom extends many notes above the pitch of that sound. 

The suddenness of transition from perfect hearing to total 
want of perception, says our author, ** occasions a degree of 
surprise, vrhich renders an experiment on this subject, with a 
series of small pipes, among several persons, rather amusing. 
A pipe, one-fourth of an inch in length, produced a soundjsap- 
posed to be about six octaves above the middle £, which was 
the limit of his own hearing ; but some persons could not 
hear that, and others could hear higher. The whole range 
of human hearing, between the lowest notes of the organ and 
the highest of insects audible to man, is supposed to be about 
nine octaves ; and although some individuals can hear sounds 
not audible to others, there is at last but little difference in the 
range of human hearing, although the existence of a limit 
cannot be disputed. 

These facts suggest some very curious inquiries. There 
are many insects which, so far as we know, are dumb ; and 
yet, is it not probable, from the existence of a limit to the 
capabilities of human hearing, that the greater number of these, 
perhaps all, are capable of emitting sounds so shrill as to be 
inaudible to man. Naturalists have frequently expressed sur- 
prise at the great readiness with which different members of 
the animal creation find their prey ; but if guided by the 
organ of hearing, as they are in all probability, there is no 
longer any occasion for wonder. Every creature may be 
supposed to possess a capability in this particular, suited to 
its habits of life. And as the Creator has for wise purposes* 
in the present stage of organised existence, ordained, or per- 
mitted, that one scale of animated being should be the sup- 


port of another, so he hai proyided each with an organ of 
hearing or sight* as most necessary, hj which the peculiar 
sustenance required can be readily obtained. 


There are iew persons who are not sensible of harmony 
and diBCord. Any two notes struck together are not calcu- 
lated to affect the mind with a pleasing sensation. All ears 
are not equally affected by harmony and discord ; but it is 
seldom that we meet with a person who does not derire some 
degree of pleasure from the one and inconvenience from the 
Other. Some are so sensible of harmony as to suffer evident 
pain from discordant notes. We knew a person who, when 
he had no knowledge of music, could detect a discordant note 
in a full orchestra ; and we knew another, who was as much 
annoyed by the finest performance as by the beating of a tin 
kettle. In the majority of cases, however, there are certsdn 
combinations of sound peculiarly agreeable, and there are 
others equally unpleasant — the former are called concords, 
the latter discords. 

It is found that whenever the vibrations produdng any 
tsro notes, have a simple or low proportion, they are in con- 
cord. The lower the proportion the more perfect the con- 
cord. Thus when the vibrations are as 1 to 2, 1 to 8, 2 to 8, 
and so on, excellent concords are produced. When on the 
other hand the vibrations have no numerical proportion, dis- 
cord is the result. 

The simplest harmony is unison, that is when two notes are 
produced by the same number of vibrations. Next to this is 


the octave, where the vibrations are as one to two. The har- 
mony in th'is instance is almost as simple as a unison, for 
when any note and its octave are sounded together, it is 
almost impossible for those unacquainted with music, to dis- 
tinguish between them. A woman's voice is an octave higher 
than a man's, and yet there are many persons who are not aware 
of the iact " The octave, says an author to whom we have 
frequently referred, ** approaches in its character to a unison ; 
and indeed two notes so related, when played together, can 
hardly be separated in idea ; and when singly, appear rather 
as the same note differently modified, than as independent 
sounds. The reason of this will be evident on inspecting the 
following figures, where the dots in the upper line represent 

the periodically recurring impulses on the ear, produced by 
the vibrations of the acuter notes ; while those in the lower 
represent the same impulses as produced by those of the 
graver ; as the ear receives these all in the order they are 
placed, it will be the same thing as if they were produced by 
two sounds both of the graver pitch, but one of a difi^erent 
intensity and quality from the other ; the one having its im- 
pulses represented by : the sum of two separate impulses of 
the octave sounds, the other consisting of the alternate im- 
pulses of the acuter only." 

When the vibrations are- as 1 to 4, we have the octave of 
the octave, or the fifteenth, which is also a perfect concord, 
as are all the octaves, as 1 to 8 and I to 16. 

A twelfth is where the vibrations are as 1 to 3. If the 


octave of the note represented by 1 be used instead, we ob- 
tain a proportion of 2 to 3, which is called a fiflh. A fourth 
is the proportion of 4 to 3. 

If the vibrations on the other hand should be in high 
proportions, discords are produced. " Higher primes than 
5 enter into no harmomc ratios. Such combinations, for in- 
stance, as 1 : 7 j 5 : 7 ; or 6 : 7, are altogether discordant. 
The same may be said of the more complicated combinations 
of the lower primes, 1, 2, 3, 5. The ear will not endure them, 
and cannot rest upon them. When sounded, a sense of 
craving for a change is produced, and this is not satisfied but 
by changing one or both of the notes, so as to fall as easily 
as the case will permit hito some one of the concords above 
enumerated. This is called the resolution of a discord ; and 
such is the constitution of our minds in this respect, that a 
concord agreeable in itself, is rendered doubly so by being 
thus approached through a discord. For example, let us take 
the ratio of 5 to 9, which is called a flat seventh, a combi- 
nation decidedly discordant. If we multiply the terms of this 
ratio by 5, we get 25 : 45. A small change in one of the 
notes will reduce this to 27 : 45, or 3 : 5, a msgor sixth — 
an agreeable concord. Now this will be done, if, retaining 
the lower note 5 or 25, we change the upper from 45 to 45 ]f, 
that is to say, to a note whose vibrations are to its own as 
25 : 27. 

Having 'premised these few facts concerning noises and 
musical sounds, we may proceed to examine the laws which 
govern vibrating bodies, and the construction of musical in- 




So many musical instruments are constructed on those 
principles involved in the theory of vibrating strings, that we 
should feel ourselves justified in asserting there is no branch 
of the science of acoustics of greater importance than that 
we are about to investigate. But if we consider this subject 
merely as a philosophical question, the interest and import- 
ance attached to it are sufficient inducements to a careful 
investigation. As this book is especially designed for the 
general reader, no strictly mathematical or rigidly phUoao- 
phical investigations can be admitted into its pag^ ; yet we 
shall attempt, as far as may be practicable, to explain so much 
of the theory of vibrating strings as shall enable the reader 
to understand the origin of the varieties of sound produced^ 
and the laws by which those sounds are regulated. When 
this has been done, we may describe the construction and 
trace the history of those instruments in which strings or 
cords are used. The laws to which we refer evidently have 
relation to all vibrating strings, in what instrument soever 
they may be employed : the varieties of tone produced by 
different instruments consist in an alteration of intensity 
and quality, which are partly regulated by the form of the 
instrument, and partly by the means adopted for producing 



the excitement. In some instruments the string is made to 
vibrate by drawing a bundle of tense fibres, called a bow, 
OTer the stretched cords, as in the violin and violoncello ; in 
some by the fingers, as in the harp and guitar, and in others 
by a small hammer, as in the pianoforte. The manner in which 
the vibrations are produced in these several instruments will 
assist in accounting for the peculiarities of their tones, so far 
at least as regards their quality; but the circumstances 
under which the vibrations are made will also have some 

The monochord (fig. 8) is an instrument admirably adapted 
to illustrate the laws which govern the production of sound 
in vibrating strings. A, B, C, D, is a hollow wooden box, on 

FiQ. 8. 

the top of which is fastened a narrow slip of wood, certain 
distances showing the necessary length of a string for the 
production of a certain note : 6 is a moveable bridge, p^ 
a point to which the string is attached at one end, w, a wheel 
or pulley, over which the string passes, and T, a weight, by 
which the necessary tension is produced. By shifting the 
bridge, the length of the vibrating part of the string may be 


either increased or decreased at pleasure, and the effects may 
be estimated under different circumstances. 

The pitch of any note given out by a tense cord will vary 
according to the density, length, or degree of tension, pos- 
sessed by the vibrating body. The reason of this is evident ; 
for the time required to complete a vibration will depend on 
these circumstances. It requires, as already observed iu a 
former chapter, so many vibrations in a second for the pro- 
duction of one note, and so many^ more or less, according to 
circumstances, for another. The mathematical theory of the 
vibration of stretched cords is one of great interest, and is 
remarkable, as Sir John Herschel has stated, " in an histori- 
cal point of view, as having given rise to the first general 
solution of an equation of partial differences ; and led geome- 
ters to the consideration of the nature and management of the 
arbitrary functions which enter into the integrals of these 
equations.** But as we cannot enter into the mathematical 
researches which have conducted philosophers to a knowledge 
of the laws of vibrating, strings we shall merely state the 
result which has been obtained. The times of vibration in 
different cords are as their lengths directly, and as the square 
roots of the tending forces inversely ; and the number of 
vibrations, the time being given, as the length inversely, and 
the square root of the tensions directly.* 


It is a well-known but curious fact, that in every vibrating 
string there are certain points which always remain in a state 

* Sound, art. 149 — 158, Ency. Metrop. 


of rest, never leaving the axis. These are called nodal points, 
and the distances between them are called bellies, or ventral 
segments. The existence of these nodal points may be readily 
shown on the monochord, an instrument already explained ; 
for if a small narrow piece of paper in the form of an inverted 
Y, be placed upon the vibrating string, it will be thrown off 
from every situation, except when on a node. 

From this &ct we are able to account for the production 
of harmonic sounds in vibrating strings. A delicate and 
practised ear can generally detect when a string is vibrating 
certain sounds blending with the fundamental note. This is 
especially the case when the string is touched lightly at par- 
ticular points, and, from the concords they form with the fun- 
damental note, they are called harmonic sounds. If the 
string of a violin, for instance, be lightly touched while sound- 
ing, exactly in the middle, the octave of the fundamental 
sound will be heard. 

A cord may, when freely vibrating, have any number of 
nodes, and consequently be divided into any number of aliquot 
parts of its whole length. This fact, as well as the produc- 
tion of harmonic sounds as the result, was first observed by 
Wallis, in 1673, and was afterwards closely investigated by 
M. Sauveur, in a memoir read before the French Academy, 
in 1700. Before mathematicians commenced the investigation 
of this subject, musicians were probably aware that when a 
vibrating string is lightly touched at certain points, certain 
notes in concord with the fundamental tone, and consequently 
called harmonic sounds, were produced. In stringed instru- 
ments these attending tones would not be so perceptible as 
in vibrating bells and plates, and only an accurate ear could 


detect them. By the use of the monochord, however, and 
the adoption of the method now commonly employed, the 
subject may be investigated experimentally by any of our 


In the ** Journal der Physick** there is an interesting and 
important paper by M. Voigt, of Halle, on the vibrating nodes 
of musical strings, to which we must call the attention of the 
reader. The facts which he adduces are arranged as a series 
of experiments, and we may follow the order in which they 
are placed. 

A O D E « 


Let A, B be the string of a monochord, and let it be divided 
into any number, four, for example, of equal parts, by the 
points C, D, and £, a moveable bridge being placed at the 
point £. Upon the points C and D, and other parts of the 
string, drop light pieces of paper, and touch that part of the 
string represented by A, £, with the bow of a violin, all the 
pieces of paper, except those lying on the points C and D, 
will be immediately thrown off by the vibration thus excited. 
The points C and D are called vibration nodes. 

C D E • T 
A ^ ^—^ , B 

Let A,B be now divided into five equal parts by the points 
C, D, £, F, and let a moveable bridge be placed at £. On 
the points C, D, F, and on any other parts of the string at 


pleasure, place small pieces of paper as in the former experi- 
ment, and put A, E into a state of vibration bj the violin bow ; 
all the papers will be thrown off except those which are on 
the points C and D. The tone produced will be to the whole 
string as 5 : 2. 




Divide the string A, B into six equal parts by the points 
C, D, E, F, G, and let the bridge be fixed at the point F. Upon 
the points C, D, E, G, and other parts at pleasure, place 
pieces of paper as in the former experiments. If F, B should 
be made to vibrate, all the papers, except that at D, will be 
thrown off, and a tone will be produced which will be to the 
tone of the whole string as 6 : 2, or 3 : 1. 

If the whole of the string be made to vibrate, the bridge 
being entirely removed, and papers being placed promis- 
cuously upon any or all parts of it^ they will all be thrown 
from their plaees. 

c D :b F ^ 

^ ' A A ' * 

Divide the string A, B into five equal parts, by the points 
C, D, E, F, and cut off the part D, E by two bridges. Upon 
C and F^ and other parts of the string, place paper, as already 
described, and cause £, D to vibrate. All the papers, except 
those on C and F, will be thrown off, and the tone produced 
will be to the tone of the whole string as 5 : 1. 

From these experiments M. Voigt deduces a series of laws 
by which the vibration nodes are apparently governed. These 
principles we shall endeavour to state in a popular manner. 


1. The vibration nodes are the only parts of a string in an 
absolute state of rest 

2. Vibration nodes can only be produced in those cases in 
which the tones have a certsdn ratio to the fundamental tone. 
It must not, however, be expected that this experiment can 
be made when the string is divided into a great number of 
parts, as, for instance, to adduce the example employed by 
the author to whom we have referred, when a string twenty- 
six inches in length is divided into forty or fifty parts : in this 
case the vibration nodes are so near to each other, that the 
paper can scarcely fail to cover more than the point which is 
at rest, and consequently will be thrown off. 

Hitherto we have confined our attention to one class of 
vibrations ; but solids, whatever may be their nature, may be 
made, if of a proper form, to vibrate longitudinally. These 
vibrations resemble those produced in a column of dr in an 
organ pipe. They are, however, more frequent; for the 
velocity with which an impulse is transmitted by solids, is 
very much greater than by air. They may be obtained by 
holding a long bar of iron or brass in the middle of its length, 
and striking one end by a small hammer. 

Dr. Chladni was the first philosopher who exhibited the 
longitudinal vibration of solids, and proved that the laws in 
this case differ entirely from those which relate to transverse 
vibrations. This he did first of all, in his ** Theory of Sound •," 
in reference to strings, and afterwards to rods. All his expe- 
riments seem to have been performed under the conviction 

* Entdeckungen Uber die Theorie des KlaDges^ p. 76. 


that solids might be made to vibrate in the same manner as a 
column of air in wind instruments. 

A string in a state of longitudinal vibration is considered 
by Chladni not as a filiform body rendered elastic by tension, 
but as a solid extended in length, and vibrating in the same 
manner as a rod fastened at both ends. The longitudinal vibra- 
tions of a string may be throughout its length, or in the separate 
parts into which it is divided ; each being subject to the same 
motion. The tones, which, compared with those obtained 
from transverse vibrations, are exceedingly high, are to each 
other as the number of vibrating parts. The tones produced 
by the longitudinal vibrations, like those obtained from the 
transverse, are in inverse ratio to the length of the strings. 
In the transverse vibrations, however, the sound greatly de- 
pends on the thickness of the string ; but in the longitudinal, 
this has no influence. The nature of the substance, on the 
other hand, which has no effect on the tones produced by 
transverse vibration, has upon those obtained from the longi- 
tudinal. The note from a brass string of a certain length is 
about a sixth higher than that produced from a cat-gut string, 
and that from steel neariy a fifth higher. The ot\y conditions 
in the production of a particular note from strings having a 
transverse vibration, are length, tension, and density. 

The best method of producing the longitudinal vibration 
of rods is, according to Chladni, by rubbing the rod in the 
direction of its length, with some soft substance covered 
with powdered resin, or by the finger. If glass tubes are 
Employed, they should be rubbed with a piece of rag spread 
over with fine sand, the tube being held at one of the 
nodes, '* In all longitudinal vibraticns," says the same 



author, ** the tones depend merely on the length of the 
sonorous body, and on the quality of the substance, the 
thickness and form being of no consideration ; yet the tones 
are not varied by the specific gravity of the vibrating sub- 
stance, for fir-wood, glass, and iron, give almost the same 
tone as brass, oak, and the shanks of tobacco-pipes." He 
also speaks of several kinds of longitudinal vibration : in 
one, to use his own words, '^ there is a certain point in the 
middle at which the vibration of each half stops ; in the 
next there are two, each at the distance of a fourth part 
from the end, and in the following there are three or more. 
The tones correspond with the natural series of the num- 
bers 1,2, 3,4, &c. If a rod be fastened at one end, during 
the first kind of longitudinal vibration, the alternate expansion 
and contraction of the whole rod will take place in such a 
manner, that they stop at the fixed end ; in the next tone 
there is a resting point at the distance of one-third from the 
free end ; and in the following there are two. The tones 
correspond with the numbers I, 3, 5, 7, and the first of these 
tones is an octave lower than the first tone of the same rod 
when perfectly free." 

We must now turn to a more generally interesting and not 
less important branch of the science of vibrating strings, the 
applipation of the facts and taws already explained. With 
regard to the last-mentioned subject, the longitudinal vibration 
of solids, it is necessary to observe, that we shall not at present 
allude to any instruments formed on this principle, they will 
be more properly considered, when we speak of vibrating 
plates and bars. 

Musical instruments, like all other works of art among 


the aodent nttionB, were in a rnde and imperfect state. The 
arts have invariably been aided by the progress of science, 
and should never precede it. An accidental discovery will 
sometimes lead to a great improvement in some one branch 
of the arts ; but if this be not afterwards established on some 
phiioeophical principle, there is no security for the perma- 
nence of the information. We have only to take a review 
of the arts which flourished among the Egyptians, to obtain 
evidence of the truth of these remarks. Their knowledge was 
empiricaly and one by one their arts were lost ; and although 
we have in the present day specimens of their ingenuity, we 
have no information concerning the processes they adopted. 
The arts, therefore, may be said to depend on scientific 
knowledge ; and when we consider the uncertain state of 
the practical sciences, we may readily account for the imper- 
fection of the instruments employed by the ancients. This 
was more especially the case in all musical instruments, in 
the construction of which a more than ordinary amount of 
scientific knowledge is required. 

In attempting to describe the musical instruments which 
are composed of vibrating strings, it will be better to speak 
first of those which are in use among the modems, for a 
passing notice of the andent inventions will be sufficient. 

The violin, which has four strings, tuned to fifths, and 
played with a bow, is one of the most important stringed 
instruments, for it is the most powerful, perfect, and gene- 
rally available that has ever been invented. Its tones, when 
touched by an unpractised hand, are harsh and far from 
melodious; but when the instrument is held by a master, 
not to say by a Paganini, they are full, rich, and surprisingly 


powerful. In almost all cases it is the leading instrument 
in an orchestra, and the perfection of its intonations is not 
quailed by any other stringed instrument. 

It has been doubted by many writers, whether any instru* 
ment played by the bow was known to the ancients. Others, 
however, haye entertained a different opinion, founded on the 
fact, that a little figure of Apollo playing on a kind of violin, 
in the collection of the Grand Duke at Florence, had some- 
thing in his hand like a bow. This figure, which Mr. Addison 
supposed to be ancient, has been proved to be of modem 
workmanship, and it is therefore now almost unanimously 
allowed by all recent writers, that the ancients were unac- 
quainted with the use of the bow. 

We are informed by Burney, in his " History of Music,** 
that on the largest Egyptian obelisk brought from Egypt by 
Augustus, and fixed in the Campus Martins, there b a 
sculpture of a stringed instrument which deserves notice. 
When the ancient city was sacked and burned in the year 
1527, by the Duke of Bourbon, general of Charles the Fiflh*s 
army, this column was thrown down and broken, and still lies, 
it is said, in the Campus Martius, and is known among the 
inhabitants as the gugUa rotta, or broken pillar. Upon this, 
Dr. Burney observed the representation of a musical instru- 
ipent of two strings, with a neck resembling the calascione, 
an instrument still used in the kingdom of Naples. 

From this figure it may be supposed that the Egyptians 
bad made some advance in musical performances, for, although 
the instrument had only two strings, many notes might be 
obtained from it. Dr. Burney says, that he has never been 
able to find, in. any remains of Grecian sculpture, an instru- 


tnent with a tieCk, and quotes the observation of Montfaucon, 
who, after examining the representation of nearly five hundred 
andent lyres, harps, and cytheras, had not found one, in which 
there was any contrivance for the shortening of the strings 
daring the time of performance by a neck and finger-board^ 
as there must have been in the Egyptian instrument. 

The French writers say that the violin was invented about 
the ninth or tenth century, but by whom or where they cannot 
determine, '* To this opinion we should have subscribed,** 
says a modem author*, *'had not some ancient monuments 
remdned with an exact representation of its form. In the pic- 
tures of Philostratus in an ancient grotto, may be seen many 
violins, which are represented much like those of the present 
times, except that the neck is shorter. Amphioh is there 
represented playing upon a viol or a violin, with five strings 
and with a bow like ours, and quite different from the plec^ 
trum of the ancients. It is believed that Athensus means the 
bow, when he says ' the sceptre is one thing and the plectrum 
another.' It is imagined that by the sceptre he means the 
bow, which is very probable, especially after the ancient 
monuments, of which we have preserved the figures. The 
pit or grotto, on the walls of which we see violins like the 
present, is found on silver medals, which were struck by 
order of Scribonius Libo, a very considerable personage at 
Rome. An account of these may be seen in Pierre Yalerien, 
author of the Hieroglyphics." 

Galileo says, that ** both the violin and bass, or violoncello, 
were invented by the Italians, perhaps by the Neapolitans." 

•' Rees's EncyclopsBclia. 


This opinion may be accurate, but upon what eridenGe it 
can be proved we do not know* The rebec, an instmment 
of three strings used by the romancers and troubadours of 
the middle ages, was the first kind of violin used in France. 
We believe that a figure of Colin Muset, the minstrel, play* 
ipg on thb instrument, is still preserved in the entrance of 
the church of St. Julien de Menestriers at Paris. The three 
stringed instruments are still used in Turkey, and other 
eastern countries ; and when the fourth string was added, 
cannot be determined. It appiears, however, that the oldest 
violins are those made by Amati, at Cremona, in the reign of 
Charles the Ninth, which are to the present time most 
highly esteemed, and considered to be the finest instrumenta. 
Corelli's violin was made in the year 1573. 

The violin was introduced into the French and Italian 
courts some time before it was known in England. In the 
reign of Charles the Second it came into use, but chiefly for 
the performance of light music. This prince established a 
band of twenty-four violins, tenors, and basses ; and from that 
time the violin has held the most important place in every 
band, except those strictly military. Soon after tiiis the 
Italian music was introduced, and a more cultivated taste 
was excited. 

In the last century, Giardini, the first violinist of his day, 
visited England, and formed a school which supplied us with 
a greater number, to use the words of a modem writer, of 
able performers than can be found in the capital of any 
other country in Europe. 

The violin is especially adapted for the performance of 
light airs, and might be considered, when in the hands of 


a moderately good performer, as suited only to the simplest 
music, and to dances in particular. It is, however, well 
known to those who have had an opportunity of hearing 
the best performers, that no music is too difficult ; and its 
power and variety of intonation is so great^ that it is as fitted 
for the grave as the lively, and the most solemn church music 
may be played on it with full force of expression. 

It has been already remarked that the violin is tuned to 
fifths ; the second string is tuned to a fifth below the first, 
the third a fifth below the second, the fourth, a fifth below the 

It is not necessary that we should, after what has been 
8ud concerning the violin, make many observations on the 
violoncello, an instrument which is a natural bass to the violin 
and tenor. It is at the present time much used by musical 
performers, and is remarkable for the sweetness of its tones, 
its power, and compass. The bass-viol, a six-stringed instru* 
ment, was once commonly introduced in concerts ; but it 
was so defective in execution, and the nasal quality of its tones 
were so unpleasant^ that it never became a favourite, although 
Abel, ** by his exquisite taste, prodigious execution, genius, 
and profound knowledge of composition, delighted all hearers, 
and made them forget, or at least forgive,** the defects of the 
instrument As the viol lost favour with the English public, 
the violoncello was introduced ; and Cervetto the elder and 
younger, Caporale, Gordon, Paxton, and Crosdil, have been 
in their times celebrated performers ; but none, perhaps, have 
excelled Lindley, who as early as the year 1804 was pro- 
nounced a wonderful player, and is still unequalled. 


The violone, or double-bass, is an instrument similar in 
form to the violoncello, but nearly twice as large^ and having 
strings larger and longer in proportion. It is tuned to an 
octave below the violoncello. In the method of tuning, 
however, there is a considerable difference, for some per- 
formers use three, and others, four strings. The violone is an 
exceedingly useful and important instrument when usec( 
judiciously ; it should be introduced to sustain the harmony. 
** Divided basses are improper for it, the strings not answering 
immediately to the percussion of the bow : these can only be 
executed with good effect on the violoncello, the sounds of 
which are more articulate and distinct." 

The harp is a stringed instrument of some antiquity, but 
its precise origin cannot be determined. Philologists have 
disputed about the derivation of the name, each supporting 
that analogy which best suits his own theory. Some writers 
are of opinion that the word harp is derived from the Latin 
carpo, because touched with the fingers ; some attribute the 
invention to the Arpii, an Italian tribe, who are by these 
persons supposed to have invented it ; while others trace it 
from the Anglo-Saxon word harpa. Many other opinions 
have been expressed, but what dependence can be placed on 
them, we do not pretend to determine. 

The harp in its many different forms has been a favourite 
instrument among almost all ancient as well as modern 
nations, and especially among our forefathers. 


A harpe well playde on shewythe swete melody ; 
A harper with his wrest may tune the harp wrong, 
Mystuning of an instrument shal hurte a true song." 



** And can no lease 
Tame the fierce walkers of the wildemesse 
Than that (Eagrian harpist, for whose lay, 
Tigers with hunger pinde and left their pray/* 


Of the harps used by ancient nations, we shall have occE'^ 
^ion to speak presently ; that now commonly employed in 
Europe is a triangular formed instrument, and stands upright 
between the legs of the player. The strings are touched 
with the fingers of both hands. The harp in the days of the 
romancers was very highly esteemed by all classes of society, 
and hence it is that they always place it in the hands of their 
heroes. An ancient writer, speaking of it in terms of the 
highest praise, says, ** that it is too solemn an instrument to be 
profaned in taverns and places of merriment, and should be 
used only by knights, esquires, ladies with beautiful hands*^ 
clerks, and men of highest quality." 

Mr. Walker, in his ** Historical Account of the Irish Bards," 
informs us, that the Irish have four different kind of harps. 

1. The clar'sch, or clarseach, which b. dbtinguished pre- 
eminently as the Irish harp. 

2. The keinane, a species of dulcimer. 

8. The donurcrmt, an instrument of ten strings, which might 
with more propriety be called a guitar. 

4. The greamthine'cruit, which is the crwth of the Welsh.. 

There can be little doubt that the harp has long been a 
national instrument among the Irish, whether before or after 
its introduction into England, is disputed. Galilei, the father 
of the celebrated Galileo, says, that the harp was known to 
the Italians before the time of Dante, and that they were 
first made acquainted with the instrument by the, Irish. In 


the Appendix to Walker's " Irish Bards," we find an inte- 
resting paper on the Irish Harp, by the Rev. Edward Led- 
wich ; and from this we must be permitted to make one or 
two extracts, as the author's opinions will be best conveyed 
in his own words. He considers the harp to have been 
altogether unknown to the Greeks and Romans, except as 
they may have seen it in the hands of the people whom they 
conquered. That it was confined to the northern European 
tribes is probable, as it is not mentioned by Isidore Hispa^ 
lensis in his ** Origines,** or by Suidas in his " Lexicon.*' The 
Anglo-Saxons introduced it into Britain. The ancient 
Britons, or rather the Bards, who were a sacred class, played 
on the crwth. The state of music among the Teutonic tribes, 
may be gathered from the following allusion to the Sarma- 
tians by Ovid :— 

** Omnia barbaricse loca sunt, vodquso feriius, 
Omnia sunt Getici plena timore soni." 

The harshness and discord of voice peculiar to the Ger* 
mans, and mentioned by many of the ancient writers, was not, 
it may be supposed, in any way compensated for, by their 
national instrument the harp. '* Inflamed with a thirst of 
conquest, and eager to possess alone that fertile i8le,they almost 
exterminated the natives, and totally erased every vestige 
of Roman and • British civility. The gentler modulations 
and softer harmony of the crwth were equally despised with 
its performers and admirers : this instrument was banbhed to 
Wales, Cornwall, and Armorica ; in the last country Venan- 
tins found it in the sixth century. 

** The Irish, I think, received it in the fourth and fifth 
eenturies, from their close coniiexion with the Saxons* and 


other rovers from the Baltic shores, viho conjunctly ravaged 
the coasts of Britain and Gaul in those ages. I know that 
Mr. Macpherson has ingeniously combatted the opinion of 
this connexion, but it is impossible to invalidate all the 
ftfguments supplied by antiquity in its favour. GiraldaS 
Cambrensis speaks of St Patrick's harp, which, if any faith 
If to be placed on legends, he might have brought from Tours, 
where he studied ; and where, no doubt, it was cultivated by 
the barbarians. The harp is mentioned by Ido in the ninth 
century ; he was a monk of St. Gall. The founder of this 
abbey being an Irishman, and the monks for the most part, of 
the same nation, who fled from the Danish tyranny, they 
could be no strangers to this instrument." 

*^ The harp is now the national emblem of Ireland, and there 
has been much dispute as. to the time when it was adopted. 
Hereditary coats of arms were not introduced in Europe till 
about the middle of the eleventh century. Hector Boethius 
relates, that on a treaty concluded between Charlemagne and 
the Scottbh king Achaius^ A. D. 791, it was granted that the 
latter prince should bear a red lion in a counter-charged 
border of fleurs-de-lis. As the Irish were equal favourites 
^ith that great monarch, he might have conferred the same 
honour on our kings ; though from what has been advanced, 
there is not the least probability of thb being so. Besides, 
had the taste for heraldic pageantry been then fashionable, 
some specimens would have been displayed on his coins, 
whereas they exhibit nothing but simple monograms." 

There is sufficient evidence to prove, that in the reign of 
Henry the Third, Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, had 
their armorial bearings, and even the principal nobility of 


the kingdom, bat there is no allusion to the arms $ from 
which circumstance we may fairly conclude that Ireland 
had none. When Henry the Eighth was proclaimed king 
of Ireland, he gave the national arms, and as he could find 
(we express the opinion of an Irish author) no other thing 
In which the people excelled, than in their performance on 
the harp, (always excepting their bravery,) he gave them 
that instrument as their national emblem. 

The triple harp of the present day has five octaves, from 
double C in the bass to double G alt. It has altogether 
ninety-seven strings, which are placed in three rows, the two 
outer are in unison, and the middle give the semi-tones. On 
the right-hand side are the bass strings, thirty-six in number ; 
on the left the treble, twenty-six in number ; and in the 
middle therQ are thirty-five strings. 

How greatly the harp has been esteemed by the Welsh, 
may be gathered from the laws which have been made ta 
encourage the practice of it among persons of quality. The 
possession of a harp, and an ability to play upon it, was one 
of the three qualities required to constitute a gentleman^ 
The slaves were not permitted to own one, and all persons 
were forbidden to teach them the art of playing. The king^ 
the king's musicians, and gentlemen, were the only persons 
who were permitted to have a harp In their possession. The 
value thus placed upon the instrument was no doubt the 
reason why it could not be seized to liquidate a debt, for to 
have lost it would have been paramount to a loss of rank. 

In the sacred Scriptures there are frequent allusions to the 
harp^ David is said to have played on the harp before Saul ; 
and when raised to the throne frequently exercised him- 


self on the same instrument. We have no evidence, how- 
ever, that the instrument which the Hebrews called the 
ckmnar, and which we have translated the harp, at all re-* 
pembles either of those to which we have alluded in the 
preceding pages. There is nothing more difficult than to 
distinguish or describe the ancient musical instruments. 
Many representations of these may be found on ancient 
sculptures, but what names are to be given to them must be 
a matter of conjecture. On a Hebrew medal of Simon 
Maccabseus, two stringed Instruments are exhibited, but 
neither of them has more than four strings, and cannot 
therefore at all resemble the modern harp. 

That the lyre used by the Romans is a very different 
instrument from the harp, all writers believe ; and we have 
the best evidence of the fact in the following passage from 
Fortunatus, who places the two instruments in contrast : — 

** Romanusqne lyra, plaudat tibi barbarus harpa, 
Grecus Achilliacha crotta Britanna canat/* 

In one of the grottos of the first kings of Egypt, Mr. Bruce, 
the African traveller, observed a painting of the Tbeban harp, 
to which we must allude before we pass on to consider any 
other musical instrument. When his description and draw- 
ings were first made public, many persons objected to them, 
and indulged in expressions of incredulity not altogether fair 
to the enterprising traveller. The truth of his description is 
now attested by Sir William Jones^ and the French philoso- 
phers who visited Egypt with Buonaparte. 

To the north-west of the ruins of the Egyptian Thebes 
iSiere are several " mountains," which have been hollowed as 
tombs, and are said to contain the bodies of the kings of 


Thebes. In the most considerable of these ** mountains'* 
there is one cave which contains a large granitic sarcophagus; 
quite perfect, except that the lid is broken. At the end of 
the passage leading to the chamber in which the sarcophagus 
is placed, there is the figure of a man playing on the harp^ 
painted on the wall in fresco. This figure attracted the 
attention of Bruce, and the account he has given is peculiarly 
interesting, not only as affording evidence that the harp was 
probably known at a very early age, but also that it is quite 
impossible ever to know the extent of information among a 
people who do not possess the art of printing. 

The figure is dressed in a costume similar to that still worn 
hj the men of Nubia. The body is covered by a shirt reach- 
ing to the ancles, and apparently formed of white muslin with 
Barrow strips of red ; the feet are uncovered. The dress is 
gathered above the elbow, so that the neck and arms are left 
bare. The figure is in a stooping posture, the right hand 
being at the bottom of the instrument, as though the per- 
former were about to strike all the notes upwards with great 
rapidity. Taking the stature of the man at about five feet 
ten inches, the harp was estimated at something less than six 
feet and a half. The instrument, according to Bumey's de- 
scription, wants " the fore-piece, or stay of the frame, opposite; 
to the longest string, which c^tainly must have improved the 
tone, and that deficiency must have rendered it very subject 
to go out of tune. The back part is the soimding-board, 
composed of four thin pieces of wood joined together in the 
form of a cone, that is, growing wider towards the bottom, so 
that as the length of the string increases, the square of the 
correspondent space in the sounding board, in which the 


sound is to undulate* always increases in proportion/' The 
harp has thirteen strings, and therefore the addition of two 
more would hare formed two complete octaves. Whether 
we are to consider the omission of these as an error com* 
mitted by the painter, or whether the instrument was in this 
respect defective, cannot at present be determined. Taking 
into consideration the fact, that the painting was evidently 
done by one who was not a master of his art, that the instru- 
ment is constructed on scientific principles, and decorated in 
an ii^enious and even elegant manner, — we are not unwilling 
to believe that the want of two strings may be traced to the 
negligence or ignorance of the painter. This view of the 
question is not, however, that proposed by Burney ; for he 
says that if the harp be painted in accurate proportion, it 
could not bear more than the thirteen strings ; but to this he 
adds — and the remark in some degree destroys the first ob« 
jection — that if the four longer strings were made of the same 
size and density as the strings of the modem harp, and tuned 
to the same pitch, they would of themselves break the cross- 
bar. But however this question may be settled by any dis- 
covery that may be hereafter made, it is quite evident, that 
the harp must have been known in Egypt at an early age. 

Before we pass on to consider the manner in which other 
stringed instruments are constructed, and to gpve a brief his- 
tory of their invention and introduction into various countries, 
it may be necessary to refer again to the action of vibrating 
cords. In some of the musical instruments already described, 
the strings are formed of the same material, and differ only in 
thickness, while in others different substances are used: In 
the violin, for instance, we have a four-stringed instrument. 


kad all the strings are formed of cat-gut ; in the violoncello, a 
metallic string is introduced ; and in the harp we have not 
6nly strings formed of different substances, but also of various 
lengths. The sounds produced from musical strings are, as 
idready proved, more and more grave, as their lengths and 
diameters are increased, and as their tension is decreased. 
In every attempt to produce musical sounds from vibrating 
strings, regard must be paid to the intensity and perfection of 
the tones, that they may be sufficiently full for a certain length 
of time. When the diameter of a string is too large, the sound 
will not last ; and when too small, its intensity will be less 
than is desired. These facts will immediately suggest to the 
reader, that the same material cannot be employed ^ith equal 
advantage in all instances. We must sometimes add to the 
weight or density of a string, instead of increasing the diame- 
ter as much as would otherwise be necessary. This is fre- 
quently done (as in the harp and other strings) by wrapping 
thin wires round them. 

Catrgut, an animal fibre, is more commonly used than any 
other substance for musical strings, and is the best that can 
be employed. The principal objection to it is, a great lia- 
bility to be affected by hygrometrical changes. The moisture 
or dryness of the atmosphere causes it to contract or expand, 
and to this must be chiefly attributed the great difficulty of 
keeping a stringed instrument in tune. The strings of the 
harp are broken from the same action. An attempt was 
made, many years since, to use silk instead of cat-gut A 
sufficient number of the single threads of the silkworm were 
taken to form a cord of the required thickness ; these were 
smeared over with the white of eggs, which was rendered 


consistent by passing the threads through heated oil. The 
string was exceedingly uniform in its thickness, but produced 
a tone which the performer called tubby. We are not aware 
that an effort has been since made to introduce any other sub* 
stances for musical strings. 

The next and most important stringed instrument demand- 
ing our attention is the harpsichord. All the instruments 
hitherto spoken of are either played with the fingers or with 
a bow, but this with keys, which are made to act on a mecha- 
nical arrangement called a jack. The jack is usually constructed 
of pear wood, and has a tongue and quill. It rests on the end of 
the key, and when thrown up by pressing the key downwards, 
the quill strikes the string, and returns to its place when the 
pressure is removed. The tongue moves on a swivel, and 
being thrown back by passing the string, is forced into its 
perpendicular position by a spring behind it A double 
spinet or virginal is in &ict the same as a harpsichord of two 
unisons and one set of keys. The double harpuchord has 
two sets of keys. The instrument was at first defective in 
tone, but at the commencement of the eighteenth century the 
hammer harpsichord was invented at Florence, and notwith- 
standing the imperfection of its mechanism, the instrument 
was greatly admired. The first pianoforte (for such is the 
name now given to the instrument) that was brought into 
England, was made by Father Wood, an English monk at 
Rome, for Mr. Crisp, and was aftecwards purchased by Mr. 
Greville for one hundred guineas, being then unique in this 
country. For some time the instrument excited but little 
public attention, for no effort was made to introduce it, 



until Plenius, the maker of the lyrichord, constructed one in 
imitation of that in the possession of Mr. Greville. 

A very full description and history of the pianoforte is 
gi?en in the " Giomale d' Italia*," but we cannot follow the 
author through all his details. It is said to have been 
invented by Bartolommeo Cristofali, a harpsichord maker in 
the service of the grand duke of Tuscany. Backers was the 
first person who constructed any number of pianofortes in 
England, and although he improved the mechanism of the 
parts in several particulars, his instruments wanted the spirit 
of the harpsichord, and their tones were little if at all superior. 
Many attempts were afterwards made by various persons, with 
no better success, and at last it almost became a matter of 
doubt whether an improvement could be introduced to super- 
sede the harpsichord. The instrument makers, however, 
were not discouraged, in spite of their failures, but were put 
in the right course, though for them too late, by Zumpe, a 
German, who commenced the manufacture of small pianofortes, 
of the size and shape of the virginal. The tone and execution 
of these were much admired, and the demand was so great 
that he could not possibly supply a sufficient number to meet 
the demand. This was in some respects a public disadvantage, 
fo|r there were many manufacturers, imperfectly acquainted 
with the method of construction, who were from this cause 
able to dispose of their imperfect instruments to those whom 
Zump^ could not supply. 

At different times the pianoforte received great improve- 
ments in the construction and tone ; we may especially notice 

* Tomo V. p. ] 44. 


Merlin, Broadwood, and Stoddard, among those who assisted 
in bringing it to the present perfect state. It is now an almost 
universal instrument. There are few families which do not 
possess one> and wherever it is found there is a never-failing 
s6urce of delight The pianoforte is in every respect a do- 
mestic instrument. Around it the members of families and 
the friends who form almost a part of the household, assemble, 
and enjoy the high pleasure of reciprocally pleasing and 
being pleased. The music of all ages^ aad the productions 
of ipen of the greatest genius, are now not only possessed, 
but appreciated in the parlour (a room especially the place of 
enjoyment) of almost all Englbh families in the middle walks 
of society. 

The pianoforte is especially adapted for domestic pur- 
poses ; its tones are rich, full, and calculated to accompany 
the human voice ; it is but little affected by hygrometrical 
changes in the atmosphere ; it is easily tuned when required ; 
and, above all, it has a great capability of execution. The 
ancients were altogether unacquainted with keyed instru- 
ments ; they possessed stringed instruments, as we shall pre- 
sently have occasion to prove ; but the vibrations were always 
produced either by striking the cords with some substance of 
a convenient shape, or with the fingers. The introduction of 
keys greatly facilitates the operations of the performer, and 
gives him an opportunity of a desirable execution. In the 
pianoforte, and also in other keyed instruments, twelve notes 
are produced in each octave, seven from white and five from 
black keys, not including the octave. 

The lute was a favourite instrument in this country during 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is now but little 

H 2 


known, and seldom if ever practised. The older poets 
frequently mention it, and give us reason to believe that it 
was in their times common in many other countries beside 
England. Thus Chaucer, in his Pardoner^s Tale, says^ — 

In Flanders whilom was a compagnie 
Of younge folke that haunted in folie. 
As hazard, riot, stewes, and tay^mes ; 
Whereat with harp^s, lut^, and guit^mes, 
They daunce and play. 

There are many other stringed instruments which might 
be here described, but we shall only mention the guitar, or 
guittara. It is an instrument which has been popular in 
almost all the southern countries of Europe, and is still a 
national instrument in Spain and Portugal. It is stated as an 
historical fact, that the Portuguese having once lost a battle, 
fourteen thousand guitars were found on the field. In the 
time of Louis the Fourteenth, the guitar was common in 
France. It was probably brought into Spain by the Moors, 
and the Spaniards undoubtedly introduced it into the other 
parts of Europe. Its tones are rich and melancholy, and 
admirably suited to the listless and amorous character of the 
inhabitants of southern climes. It may be, as a modem 
author suggests, that the silence of the beautiful nights in 
Spain, when the inhabitants are most alert and active, is 
favourable to its mild and dulcet harmony. 

About the middle of the last century, the guitar was so 
fashionable in England as to threaten the ruin of those per- 
sons engaged in the manufacture of other instruments. The 
use of the guitar is said to have been stopped by Kirkman, a 
harpsichord maker. Having bought a number of cheap 


guitars, he gave them to ballad-singers, and persons in the 
lowest sphere of life, teaching them at the same time how to 
play a few popular songs. As soon as the instrument be- 
came common, those who had been most interested with it 
as a fashionable toy, threw it by in disgust, and commenced 
again the study of the pianoforte. Thus it is that fashion 
governs the inventions of the wisest, and consigns to neglect, 
or raises into estimation, the talents, genius, and industry, of 
the greatest men in ail ages and countries. 
' The Spanish guitar is much larger than that used in Eng- 
land. It has sometimes four strings, and the neck of the 
instrument is divided into ten parts by notches or frets, which 
direct the performer. The strings are attached to a bridge 
at the lowest part of the belly. Five double strings are now 
frequently employed, and its compass is two octaves and a 

The guitar is still esteemed, but less for its own merits than 
for its association with the history of the romancers. The 
very name recals the imagination to scenes which passed in 
review before the mind in the days of childhood and youth — 
the festive scene with its gay appendages ; the mournful and 
heart-broken lover ; the gay gallant, and the anxious maiden, 
who cheered her hopes with the songs which encourage the 

In reference to the stringed instruments of antiquity but 
little can be said, unless we were to enumerate all the opinions 
which have been expressed by various authors, a task by no 
means calculated to give the reader satisfacUon. The names 
of the principal instruments are, the lyre, citbara, chelys, 
psaltry, and harp. We have had already occasion to state 


that the harp must have been a very different instrument from 
that now employed. Montfaucon says that he has examined 
the representations of six hundred lyres and citharas in 
ancient sculpture. Bumey^ in his *' Reflections on the 
Construction of Ancient Musical Instruments,** quotes a pas- 
sage from Quintilian, which seems to give us some idea of the 
difference between ancient musical instruments. '* Among 
the stringed instruments you will find the lyre> of a character 
analogous to masculine, from the great depth or gravity, and 
roughness of its tones ; the sambuca of a feminine character, 
weak and delicate, and from its great acuteness, and the 
smallness of its strings, tending to dissolve and enervate. Of 
the intermediate instruments, the polypthongum partakes most 
of the feminine ; but the cithara differs not much from the 
masculine character of the lyre." 

From this description we learn that the Greeks had two 
classes, as they imagined^ of stringed instruments ; one pro- 
ducing tones called masculine, the other those which were 
considered of a feminine character. The Greeks were espe- 
cially distinguished by a regard to nature in all their works. 
To them we are indebted for the noblest specimens of archi- 
tectural taste^ and, if we may believe their disciples and 
annotators, they established the three orders from a con- 
sideration of the human figure. The Doric represents mas- 
culine strength ; the Corinthian, virginal elegance and grace ; 
the Ionic, matronal simplicity, and an avoidance of redundant 
ornament. So, it appears from the passage just quoted, they 
were accustomed to classify their instruments. There are two 
characters mentioned — the lyre, distinguished for its mascu- 
line tones, and the polypthongum, an instrument spoken of 


by Homer, for its feminine character. Between these two 
extremes there were, in all probability, many yarieties, the 
cithara resembling the lyre, and the sambuca having a simi- 
larity to the polypthougum. 

The ancient lyre of the Greeks was an instrument of seven 
strings. This fact we may learn from the celebrated Spartan 
edict against Timotheus. Timotheus was born at Miletus, 
446 years before Christ, and was the most celebrated poet 
and musician of his day. According to many ancient writers, 
the Grecian lyre had at first only four strings, and three others 
were added to it by Terpander. A hundred and fifty years 
after that period, Pythagoras added an eighth. Among the 
Spartans, however, the instrument could have had only seven 
strings, as will appear from the following curious proclamation 
against Timotheus : ** Whereas Timotheus, the Miletian, 
coming to our city, has dishonoured our ancient music, and, 
despising the lyre of seven strings, has, by the introduction 
of a greater variety of notes, corrupted the ears of our youth • 
and, by the number of his strings and the novelty of his 
melody, has given to our music a curious and effeminate 
dress, instead of the pldn and orderly one in which it has 
hitherto appeared ; rendering melody infamous, by composing 
in the chromatic, instead of the enharmonic . . . The kings 
and the ephori have resolved to pass censure upon Timotheus 
for these things ; and further, to oblige him to cut all the 
superfluous strings of his eleven, leaving only the seven tones; 
and to banish him from our city : that men may be warned 
for- the future not to introduce into Sparta any unbecoming 

The lyre was highly esteemed by the Greeks, and its inven- 

104 I'HE LYRE. 

tioft was assigned to the gods. Some say it was discovered 
by Mercury/ while others attribute it to Apollo, or Orpheus. 
Most writers, however, consider Mercury to have the highest 
title to the honour. Apollodorus gives a pretty fable, to 
account for the invention of the lyre : the waters of the 
Nile, when they overflowed their banks* threw a turtle on 
the shore, which died, and was not swept away by the retiring 
flood. Exposed to the atmosphere, the animal substance was 
soon decomposed, and nothing was left but the shell and the 
tense fibres. The Egyptian Mercury, when walking by the 
shore, observed and examined the remuns of the animal, And 
immediately afterwards constructed the lyre in imitation of 
what he had seen. 

Although the ancients had many stringed instruments, 
more than we are acquunted with, there are only two repre- 
sentations of instruments with necks— one on the obelisk at 
Rome, and one in the sepulchral grotto in the city of Tar- 
quina. The allusions to musical instruments are frequent in 
the Greek and Roman writers ; but they do not generally 
give a description of them. Little dependence can, on the 
other hand, be placed upon the various representations in 
ancient sculpture, for none but the most simple instruments 
are introduced. . 




All solids^ when in a state of vibration, give out sounds. 
The pitch of these sounds depends on the frequency of the 
▼ibrations ; and their quality and strength are governed by 
the nature of the vibrating body, the extent of the undulations^ 
and other mechanical circumstances. 

In the last chapter, we have considered the vibration of one 
class of solids, namely, strings. The motion in these bodies 
is produced by an external tension ; but in plates, bars, bells, 
and vessels of various kinds, the vibrations result from their 
own elasticity. When speaking of strings, we took occasion 
to describe the nature of longitudinal vibrations, not so much 
because it was a subject strictly belonging to that part of our 
inquiry, but because it assisted our investigations. Referring 
again to the character of the vibrations produced in solids, it 
will be remembered that an undulation may be propagated 
through them in the same manner as in an elastic fluid, and 
obeys the same laws ; or they may be struck in the direction 
of their length, and the vibration is then said to be longitudi- 
nal The nature of these longitudinal vibrations may be sUll 
further illustrated by a description of the euphone. 

The euphone is an instrument invented by Dr. Chladni. 
This philosopher, when examining the nature of sonorous 


bodies^ imagined the possibility of producing musical sounds 
by rubbing glass tubes longitudinally. " I was quite aware,"* 
he says, ** that tones could not be obtained by merely rubbing 
glass tubes, and it therefore became a question of great diffi- 
culty to determine the manner in which the instrument should 
be constructed." For more than eighteen months his mind 
seems to have been engrossed with the idea of producing a 
new instrument ; yet the difficulties which stood in his way 
were augmented rather than diminished. The manner in 
which he at last obtsdned his object is remarkable, but is 
related by himself, and may therefore be repeated. In the 
summer of 1789, he returned home in the evening, exhausted 
with walking, and fell asleep in his chair, but had scarcely 
closed his eyes when the arrangement which he had been so 
long seeking was presented to his ndnd. He immediately 
started up, recovering all his enthusiasm, and after a few 
experiments, convinced himself that his object had been 
attuned. In March of the following year, he had completed 
his instrument, and was able to play upon it a few simple 
tunes. In every respect it answered his expectations, but in 
its construction was so deficient in strength that it was Con-^ 
stantly needing repair, and to have conveyed it a mile, he 
Says, would have almost totally destroyed iu 

The euphone, a name which signifies an instrument that 
has a pleasant sound, consists of forty-one fixed and parallel 
cylinders of glass, of equal length and thickness. They were 
at firsts for want of better materials, constructed of thenno- 
meter tubes, the whole and half tones being distinguished by 
a coating of sealing-wax on the under side. Tubes of difierent 
colours are now employed for the same purpose. The euphone, 


in its external appearance, resembles a small writing-desk, 
which, when opened, presents a series of glass tubes, about 
the thickness of a quill, and about sixteen inches long. In 
the back part of the instrument, there is a perpendicular 
sounding-board, into which the tubes are fixed. When used, 
the tubes are wetted with a sponge, and stroked in the direc- 
tion of their length with wet fingers, so that the intensity of 
the tone may be varied by a greater or less pressure. 

From the pains which the Doctor has taken to compare 
his own instrument with the harmonica, it would appear that 
some persons in his own day considered it as only a modifi- 
cation of that instrument. He has given seven reasons why 
an unprejudiced person should prefer the euphone. 

1. It is less complex in its construction, and requires 
neither turning nor stamping, but merely the motion of the 

2. The tone is ^ven out as soon as touched, and the full 
power of the instrument may be obtained ; whereas in the 
harmonica the intensity of the tones must increase gradually. 

3. It has more distinctness in quick passages, as the tones 
do not resound fot so long a time. 

4. The unison is more perfect than in the harmonica, for 
in that instrument it is difficult to obtain glasses which in 
every part shall give tones with mathematical exactness. 
The euphone, however, he acknowledges, is as difficult to tune 
as the harmonica. 

5. It does not affect the nerves of the performer, for he 
scarcely feels the slightest agitation in the fingers ; but when 
playing the harmonica, particularly the concords of low 
notes, the vibrations are felt throughout the whole system. 


6. The expense of the instrument is less than the har- 

7. When any portion of the instrument is broken, it is 
easily repaired, and at a small expense. 

These are Chladni's reasons for recommending the euphone 
in preference to the harmonica. Whether he has been guided 
by the prejudice which an inventor naturally feels for his own 
instrument, we cannot pretend to state, as we have not 
hitherto met with an opportunity of examining its clsums to 

Sir John Herschel still further explains the construction 
of this instrument, in the following passage t ** The longitu- 
dinal vibrations of a rod of glass, excited by rubbing it with 
a wet cloth, may also be used to excite vibrations in a given 
point of a solid perpendicular to its surface, by applying its 
end to it, or cementing it to the solid by mastic. In this 
way Chladni applied it to draw forth the sounds of glasfl 
vessels, (which, when hemispherical, and of sufficient size and 
even thickness, are remarkably rich and melodious,) in an 
instrument which he called the euphone, exhibited by him in 
Paris and Brussels. The principle of this instrument was at 
the same time concealed ; but the enigma was subsequently 
solved by M. Blanc, who on his part made the same remark, 
and applied it to a similar purpose." The euphone, there- 
fore» although producing sounds by longitudinal vibrations, is 
also an illustration of the manner in which vibrations are 
communicated — a subject to be hereafter considered. 

Although musical sounds are sometimes obtained from 
solids by longitudinal vibrations, the most common method 
of producing undulations is by forcibly disturbing the exter- 


nal form of the substanee. This is done when a bell is 
struck, and when a plate, or bar, suspended at one point, is 
touched at another. Dr. Chladni enumerates six conditions 
under which solids may be put into a state of vibration and 
produce sounds. 

1. When one end of a rod is firmly fixed in a horizontal 
position, the other being free. 

2. When one end is placed in a perpendicular position 
against a solid, the other end bemg free. 

3. When the two ends are free. 

4. When both ends are applied. 

5. When both ends are fixed. 

6. When one end is fixed and the other applied. 
Speaking of the fourth case, the author to whom we have 

frequently referred, compares the vibrating bar and string. In 
the latter the successive harmonics are represented by the 
numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ; in the former by the squares of 
these numbers, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25. In every other case the series 
is less simple, and hence it is evident that the theory of 
harmony cannot be established on the aliquot subdivisions 
of a vibrating string. 

Let us now come to the consideration of the effects pro- 
duced upon a plate in a state of vibration. Let it, for instance, 
be imagined, that a plate, having a rectangular figure, is fixed 
at one point, and that the vibrations are produced at another ; 
there will be certain lines or points which will be at rest, in the 
same manner as the nodes of a vibrating string. To give an 
ocular proof of the fact, that there are, in every sounding body, 
certain parts which remain at rest, and others which are in 
vibratory motion, the surface of the body may be covered with 


some light substance, such as sand, which will be thrown 
from the parts in motion, and accumulated on those at rest. 
The plate will, therefore, present a series of nodal lines, 
represented in fact by accumulations of sand, the distances, 
arrangement, and position of which may be accuraiely mea- 
sured at leisure. The origin of the vibration figures formed 
upon plates in which undulations have been produced, may 
be traced to the different conditions of the several parts of 
the vibrating body ; the sand, or other light substance em- 
ployed, being thrown from the parts in motion, and accumu- 
lated on the parts at rest. By the adoption of this method 
of experimenting, it is easy to determine the precise points 
of vibration and of rest, which will, whatever may be the 
form of the plate, be regulated by the position of the point 
of suspension, the centre of vibration, and the parts which 
are kept at rest 

The service which Dr. Chladni has rendered to this branch 
of the science of acoustics, induces us to give a short ac- 
count of his labours, in which we are assisted by his own 
description, in an article published in a German philosophical 
journal^ in the year 1788. Chladni was the son of a pro- 
fessor of law at Wittenberg, but received a limited education, 
both under the paternal roof and in the school of Grimma. 
This induced him, he says, to think for himself, from a very 
early age, and to give license to the peculiar disposition of 
his mind. His father, however, guided by a common and 
perhaps natural desire that his son should follow the same 
profession as himself, insisted upon his entering as a student 

* Magazin fur das neueste aus der Physik, vol. iv, p. 100. 


of law, which he did, first at Wittenberg, and then at Leipsic, 
where he took his degree. Soon after this, his father died, 
an event that freed him from all control, and caused him to 
resign his profession, and devote himself to the study of phi- 
losophy, and the delivery of lectures on physical and mathe- 
matical science, preparatory, as he hoped, to an appointment 
to some professorship. When nineteen years of age^ he 
learned to play the harpsichord, and read many works on the 
theory of music, but finding them exceedingly defective in 
all parts which required experimental or mathematical in- 
vestigation, he resolved to devote himself entirely, though 
surrounded with many difficulties, to these studies. 

Chladni's first experiments seem to have been on the 
vibration of strings and cylindrical pieces of wood, the latter 
having been suggested to him by the mathematical calcu- 
lations of the elder Euler. While thus experimenting upon 
the vibrations of bodies^ he observed that a plate of glass or 
metal gave out different tones, according to the manner in 
which it was held, and the part on which it was struck. To 
determine the cause of this, then became an object of close 
attention. He fixed in a vice the axle of a brass plate which 
belonged to a polishing machine, and discovered that the 
tones emitted, when the bow of a violin was drawn over it, 
were stronger and of longer duration than those obtained 
by percussion. This experiment, and subsequent reflection, 
in all probability led him to the invention of the euphone, an 
instrument already described. The advantage derived from 
his investigations did not end here, for his mind was inter- 
ested in all the facts connected with the production and 
modification of sound, and formed from them deductions 


which were tested by experiment as soon as they were con- 
ceiyed. To him we are indebted for the dificovery of that 
means of investigating the condition .of a vibrating solid, to 
which a brief allusion has been made. 

It may be interesting to the reader to know the manner in 
which Dr. Chladni made his curious experiments on the 
figures assumed by sand, and other sunilar substances, when 
strewed over vibrating sonorous bodies. Take a square piece 
of glass, such as that used for windows, not less than four or 
five inches over, and smooth the edges by grinding. Spread 
over the plate, as evenly as possible, a little sand, and holding 
it between the thumb and fore-finger, in the middle, pass the 
bow of a violin against one of its edges, drawing it either 
upwards or downwards, in a direction perpendicular to its 
surface. A tremulous motion will be immediately observed, 
and the sand will arrange itself in some particular and fixed 
figure. If the bow be passed over the middle of one of the 
sides, the sand will arrange itself in the direction of the two 
diagonals, dividing the square into four isosceles triangles. 
If the bow be applied at any point which is one-fourth the 
length of the square from any angle, the sand will arrange 
itself so as to represent the two diameters of the square, 
dividing it into four equal figures of the same form. If the 
square be held at the two extremities of either diameter, and 
the bow be applied to the extremities of the other diameter, 
ihe sand will take the figure of an oval, having its m^jor 
axis in the same direction as one of the diameters. 

The experiment made by Chladni on vibrating surfaces, in 
1787, soon attracted the attention of philosophers, and M. 
Yoight was one of the first who repeated them^ and added 



to Chladni's observations on the curious phenomena. In a 
foreign journal we find one of his papers which deserves our 
especial attention. Having explained that the accumulation 
of the sand on particular points, and consequently the figure 
produced, is occasioned by the state of rest which some parts 
of a vibrating surface retain, he states as a principle, that to 
produce such a figure nothing is necessary but to know the 
method of bringing that part of the surface which you do not 
wish to vibrate into a state of rest ; and of putting into motion 
that which you wish to vibrate. To do this, some parts of the 
plate must be damped, that is to say some parts must be brought 
into contact with a solid body, or suffer pressure by some other 
means. The damping may, he says, be best effected by laying 
hold of the place to be damped between two fingers, or by sup- 
porting it only by one finger, or on a piece of cork. 

No apology will be required for the introduction of the 
following translation from M. Voigt's paper on vibrating 
surfaces. When you wish to produce any figure you must 
first form it, in idea, on the plate, so that you may be able to 

Fig. 9. 
determine where a line at rest, and where a vibrating part, 
will occur. The point of greatest repose will always be 



where two or more lines at rest intersect each other, and 
such places in particular must be damped. For example, in 
figure 9, the part n must be damped, and the bow must be 
drawn over the point p. Figure 10 may be as easily pro- 

FiG. 10. 
duced if you hold the plate at r, and excite the vibrations 
at the point / The strongest vibration seems to be, at all 
times, in that part of the edge which is bounded by a curve. 
You must, however, damp not only those points where two 
lines intersect each other, but endeavour to support at least 
one which is suited to that figure, and to no other. One of 
the greatest difficulties in producing the figures, is to deter- 
mine beforehand the vibrating and resting points which belong 
to a certsdn figure and to no other. 

Hence it happens, that when a person is not able to sup- 
port those points which distinguish one figure from another, 
and the violin bow is rubbed against the plate, several 
hollow tones are heard, without the sand forming itself 
as was expected. One must therefore acquire by experi- 
ence a readiness in searching out among these tones, that 


which belongs to the required figure, and to produce it on 
the plate] by rubbing the bow agsdnst it. But it requires 
great pracdce to determine the figure previously from the 
tone, or to search out among various tones that which be- 
longs to the figure ; and to know how to make the plate 
vibrate in such a manner that this tone alone, and not another, 
shall be heard. For this purpose you must first listen, and 
then alter the mode of rubbing, and as soon as the right 
tone is produced, you must rub somewhat harder with the 
violin bow, by pressing it more strongly against the edge of 
the plate. The latter is especially necessary in the production 
of high tones. As soon as you have acquired sufficient 
ezpertness in this respect, you can, as I have myself expe- 
rienced, determine beforehand with a considerable degree 
of certainty the figures to be produced, and even the most 
difficult. This practice will be attended with the greatest 
advantage iS, when you rub the bow against the plate for 
the first time, in order to produce a figure, you continue 
the rubbing that the tone may be remembered; and if 
you try, after some time, to produce the same tone again. 
It may be readily conceived that you must not forget what 
parts of the plate were excited, and in what manner you 
damped it ; and you may mark these points by making a 
scratch on the plate with a piece of fiint 

To perform these experiments, the reader must provide 
himself with several glass plates of different sizes and shapes. 
The edges must be ground smooth that they may not destroy 
the bow, and the surface must be free from hollows. The 
white flatted glass is better suited than any other for the 
producdon of these figures. The necessity of having glass 


that is throughout homogeneous must be evident. M. Voigt 
says, that he had in his possession a circular plate of glass, 
twenty inches in diameter, on which he could never produce 
a perfect circle as on other plates, the figure always appearing 
as a very long ellipse. This he supposed to arise from the 
numerous stripes in the substance of the glass. 

The sand that is used must not be too fine, or it will be 
thrown from the nodal points, and exhibit an altogether 
different series of phenomena. To hold the plates, an in- 
strument resembling a pair of curved pliers may be used, a 
piece of cork or leather being attached to those points which 
are intended to grasp the plate. 

From what has been stated, it must be evident to the 
reader, that the same plate will exhibit different figures, ac- 
cording to the place in which it is held, and the point upon 
which the bow is made to act. Let us for instance take a 
square plate, and holding it in the centre, cause it to vibrate by 
applying the bow to a point as near as possible to one of the 
angles. The sand will accumulate in two lines at right angles 
to each other, dividing the surface into four equal squares. 
The tone thus obtained, and producing the figure we have 
described, is the lowest of which the plate is capable. 

Still holding the plate in the centre, let the bow be applied 
at the middle of one side, and two diagonal lines will be 
formed, that is to say, each line will connect the two oppo- 
site angles. The tone produced in this instance is one-fifth 
higher than that previously obtained. Hence then it will 
appear, that there are certain nodal lines for every tone that 
can be produced from a vibrating plate. By changing the 
position of the instrument which holds or supports the plate^ 


grasping it, for instance, at one of the edges instead of the 
centre, a different figure will be obtsdned, as well as a different 

We cannot conclude our remarks upon the figures formed 
upon vibrating bodies, without an allusion to the experiments 
made by the celebrated Oersted, and his curious deductions 
from them. The method adopted in making these experi- 
ments, was communicated to Professor Pictet, and the 
opinions of the writer have not yet, so far as we know, been 
sufficiently investigated. This ingenious and talented phi- 
losopher, when reflecting on Chladni's curious experiments, 
the nature of which we have just explained, was led to 
the conclusion, that they do not exhibit the small vibrations 
which concur to form the undulations from which the figures 
result, although they evidently exhibit the points of rest 
between those portions of the surface which are put into 
vibration. Oersted makes one objection, founded on the 
fact, that the sand used in Chladni's experiments is too large 
grained to indicate the direction and force of the motions 
to which the particles beneath are subject. It may also be 
urged, that the grains of sand are elastic, and consequently 
do not remsun on the parts upon which they fall : this hinders 
them from pursuing a regular progressive movement, like 
that of sonorous undulations. These considerations induced 
him to employ the lycopodium seed, or the seed of the 
club-moss, instead of sand. ** After having covered,** says 
the writer, " a plate of metal or glass with this substance, I 
tried to produce a sound in the manner of Chladni, and in 
an instant I saw the dust distribute itself into a number of little 
regular tumuli, which put themselves in motion at their ex- 


tremities^ or formed the figures discovered by this naturalbt. 
They always range themselves in the form of a curve> the 
convexity of which is in proportion to the point touched by 
the violin bow ; or towards the point which has an analogous 
situation ; the nearer that each of these little heaps is to 
these points, the greater is its height, a circumstance which 
gives a remarkable regularity to the figure." 

The interior of the small elevations obtained in Oersted's 
experiments are in constant motion during the continuation 
of the sound, and the duration of the vibrations may be ob- 
served on a plate from four to six inches in diameter. " At 
one moment,*' says Oersted, ** the height increases, and at 
another it diminishes, and the dust has the appearance of 
arranging itself in small globules, which roll one above 

To give the reader a view of the experiments and results 
obtained by Oersted, we must place before him an abstract 
of his paper, which may be done in almost his own words. 
The motion of the grsdns is in part vertical and in part hori- 
zontal> the latter being composed of two forces, one impelling 
the grains forward, and the other driving them to the two 
sides. To examine these forces separately, he took a plate 
of glass^ and, holding it in such a position that his fingers 
were in contact with the edge of the plate at two or three 
points, struck the edge which was not touched, with a smooth 
piece of wood. Every part receiving the shock at the same 
instant, the powder arranged itself in lines parallel to the edge 
that was struck. If the blow does not strike upon the whole 
of the edge, other lines are formed parallel to the direction of 
the blow, and perpendicular to the edge. 


The lines produced in the manner now explained, consist 
of a series of small elevations less regular than those obtained 
by vibrations produced with a fiddle bow. From these experi- 
ments and observations, the author proceeds to notice some 
theoretical opinions which are exceedingly curious, and de- 
serve the attention of modern observers ; but the inquiries to 
which they would lead cannot be introduced with any pro- 
priety in this work ; and we must merely state that electricity 
is supposed to have some influence in the production of the 

We have hitherto spoken of two kinds of vibrations to 
which solid elastic substances are subject — the one transversal 
and the other longitudinal ; the former were first examined 
by Daniel Bernoulli, and afterwards more completely inves- 
tigated by Euler*; the latter were discovered by Chladni. 
To the last-named author we are indebted for some remarks 
on another kind of vibration, called spiral. We have only 
met vrith one paper on this subject, which was written by 
Chladni himself in a Dutch journal. The spiral vibrations 
here referred to are produced in a rod when it is made to 
turn alternately to the right and lef^, the nodes or quiescent 
lines, separating the several parts, remaining motionless. To 
produce these spiral vibrations^ a long cylindrical rod, the 
surface of which must be made as smooth as possible, may be 
held at a node between the fingers, and a vibrating portion be 
rubbed in a spiral direction with a woollen rag. When a glass 
tube is used, the rag must be moistened with water and covered 
with fine sand ; when wood or metal is employed, the woollen 

* See Trans, of Imper. Acad. 1769. 


must be covered with reain. The character of the tones pro- 
duced, and the division of the rod into vibrating parts, follow 
the same law as in rods vibrating longitudinally. According 
to the observations of Dr. Chladni, however, the tone of a 
rod vibrating spirally is a fifth higher than when it vibrates 

From this discovery, Chladni was led to an explanation of 
the phenomena produced when a prismatic rod having one 
end fastened in a vice is rubbed on one edge in a longitudinal 
direction, sand being strewed over one of its horizontal sides. 
The sand is in this case accumulated on a line proceeding 
along its whole length, a phenomenon which may be explained 
by supposing the range to be greater at the edges further dis- 
tant from the axis than in the middle of each side. This being 
the case, the sand thrown from the places near the edges 
will be accumulated in the middle near the axis, where the 
vibration is weakest ; and consequently must take a longi^ 
tudinal direction. 

The account which has here been given of vibrating figures 
and the manner in which they are obtained, ought not to 
satisfy the inquiries of the student. Although we are confined 
by the number of our pages, to a brief explanation, the reader 
will, perhaps, find in them a greater variety of facts than he 
could collect, without searching the pages of the various philo- 
sophical journals : his own studies will supply the deficiency. 
In a former part of this work we have spoken of the con- 
ducting power of solids, but as this is a subject intimately 
connected with the inquiry to which we are about to direct 
the attention of the reader, a further allusion to the facts which 
have been discovered will not be improper. We shall, how- 


ever, confine ourselves to an account of a few experiments 
relative to the propagation of sound in different solid and 
fluid media, performed in the year 1797, by M. Perrole*. 

If the ears be closed with mashed paper, and one ear be 
brought near to a watch suspended from a hook, the beat will 
not be heard. Then take a solid body, such as a cylinder of 
wood, about a foot in length, and bringing one end in contact 
with the watch, let the other come in contact with the cartila- 
ginous part of the ear, and the beat of the watch will not 
only be heard, but much more distinctly than if the ear 
had not been closed, and air had been the communicating 

M. Perrole took cylinders of different woods, as of fir, 
oak, box, cherry-tree, chesnut, and logwood, all being of the 
same size, about a line in diameter, and a foot in length. 
These were successively brought into contact with the ear 
and the watch, and they all transmitted the sound as in the 
former instance, but there was a great difference in the quality 
and intensity of the tone. The metals were examined in the 
same manner, but did not transmit the sound so readily as 
wood, and the tone was not so intense. 

These experiments are of the greatest value in the con- 
struction of musical instruments, as we shall perceive when 
we come to inquire into the communication of sounds. Take 
a watch, and holding it suspended in the air, the ticking sound 
will not be heard at the distance of a few feet. Place the 
same watch upon a table, and its sound will be very percep- 
tibly increased. Let a tuning-fork be put into vibration by 

* Nicholson's Journal, vol. i. p. 411. 



percussion, and the sound given out when held in the hand, 
will be only I heard when the broad surface of one tong is 
brought near to the ear ; but if the flat surface which termi- 
nates the stem of the fork be brought into contact with a 
table or any odier extended piece of wood, the sound may be 
heard at a great distance. These experiments suggest to us 
at once, a means by which the intensity of a sound may be 
increased, and, as will afterwards appear, its quality may be 

M. Perrole, reasoning upon the experiments which he 
had made upon the conducting power of solids, was led to 
the supposition that the increase of intensity in the two 
instances last mentioned, was owing to the power of the wood 
in conducting sound. To put this supposition to the test of 
experiment, he placed his watch on a slab of marble, and 
little or no increase of power was observed. He then took 
one of the cylinders of wood before mentioned, and using it 
in the same manner, heard an imperfect and indistinct sound. 
Many other experiments, which cannot be here detailed, were 
made by the same philosopher, and from the whole he deduces 
the following principles. 

1. That the woods and metals fortify the weak sounds of 
those bodies with which they are in contact, and modify the 
tone in a manner peculiar to each. 

2. That these effects arise from the power of conduction 
in metals being greater than that of air, each having the 
power of giving a peculiar modification of sound. 

3. The resonance of musical instruments is more particu- 
larly to be attributed to this cause. 

4. The experiments made on musical instruments afford 


reason to conclude that volume has an influence on resounding 

5. Although M. de Maupertuis is of opinion that the reso- 
nance of musical instruments may be traced to the existence 
of fibres in them of every possible length, from which suppo- 
sition it would necessarily follow there must be some which 
may vibrate in unison with a string, whatever tone it may 
produce ; yet one of the experiments made by M. Perrole is 
opposed to this ingenious supposition. 

There are many persons who imagine^ for want of careful 
investigation, or in other words, because they take opinions 
they have heard from others, or have formed themselves from 
a casual inquiry without sufficient evidence, that the circum- 
stances under which a vibrating body is placed can have 
little if any influence on the quality or intensity of the sound. 
The slightest reflection would correct this error, and yet it is 
indulged by many persons in spite of evidence calculated to 
establish a more accurate principle. The experiment already 
alluded to, of placing a watch on a table, or resting a vibrating 
fork on a surface of wood, might correct the error : or, as a 
still further means of testing the accuracy of the statement, 
the tone of a cord producing the same note as any string of 
a violin might be compared with the sound given out by that 
instrument ; and an inexperienced ear would instanUy detect 
the difierence of quality and intensity. 

The violin ofiers us an excellent illustration of the manner 
in which undulations may be communicated by a vibrating 
body to a quiescent surface. The violin is an instrument 
essentially consisting of four stretched cords drawn over 
a hollow case, and attached at one end to pegs, which, fitted 


into the neck of the instrument, give an opportunity of increas- 
ing or decreasing the tension at pleasure. The strings are 
divided into two unequal portions by a bridge which serves 
the purpose of supporting the strings, each one fitting into a 
notch, so that it cannot, when tightly strung, slip either on 
one side or the other. The longer part of the string is put 
into vibration by a bow, and rests at one end upon the 
upper portion of, the finger-board, and at the other upon 
the bridge. When a string is made to sound, or, in other 
words, is put into a state of vibration, the bridge participates 
in the motion, and moves from one side to the other, each 
leg in its turn rising and falling. The vibrations are then 
communicated to the upper face of the instrument, and by an 
upright, called the sounding post, to the other surface. The 
whole of the instrument is therefore in vibration, as may be 
proved by touching the several parts, and vibration figures 
might be produced if the surfaces were not curved. 

M. Savart, to whom this branch of science is especially 
indebted for the discovery of many of its most important prin- 
ciples, is said to have been the first who observed that if the 
note given out by a vibrating string be changed by increasing 
its length or diminishing its tension, the solid in contact with 
it will undergo the same change and still vibrate in unison. 
Hence it will appear that a string, and the solid with which it 
may be united, form a vibrating system. Some philosophers 
have imagined that there are certain fibres in a sounding-board 
which vibrate to one tone, and others which vibrate to another, 
and that in no case the entire board can be made to sympa- 
thise with any particular sound. From M. Savart's experi- 
ments it is evident that the board in every instance becomes 


a part of a vibratory system, and acts in unison with every 
note, although much more perfectly with some than with 
others. To this philosopher much honour is due for the 
accurate and ingenious manner in which his experiments 
were made, as well as for the splendid results he obtained ; 
but it ought in fumess to be stated, that the fact here alluded 
to was first observed by M. Perrole. 

The vibratory communication has been already noticed 
incidentally, when speaking of Chladni's euphone, an instru- 
ment in which a rod of glass is made to vibrate longitudinally, 
and communicate its vibrations to a solid, fixed in a perpen- 
dicular position. Many interesting experiments may be 
made illustrative of this principle. Take a small circular 
glass disc, and attach it to a rod or tube of much smaller 
comparative dimension, exdte vibrations by a blow, or other- 
wise, and the note given out will be that of the disc, the 
sound belonging to the rod being merged with that of the 
larger body with which it is in contact. On the other hand, 
take another circular dise which is small in comparison to 
the rod, and the sound will be that which belongs to the 
rod alone. If the rod and disc be formed of such dimensions 
as to be intermediate between these two extremes, the sound 
given out will not be the same as that obtained firom either, 
for they will vibrate as a system, and produce an intermediate 
tone. A very curious and similar observation was made by 
Ellicot, who noticed that two clocks, resting on the same stand, 
beat precisely the same moment, although their rates of going 
may be very different when apart 

From what has been here stated, it might be supposed that 
the several parts of a vibratory system would yield, when 


sand is strewed over them, precisely the same figure. This 
supposition does not seem to be substantiated by experiment. 
If two discs of unequal size or density, and consequently 
having different tones, be united together, and made to 
vibrate as a system, an intermediate sound will be produced, 
but the nodal figures will not correspond. If two circular 
discs, having the same tone, be united at their centres, the 
primitive tone will be produced, and the nodal figure formed 
upon the surface of one, will correspond with that on the 

M. Savart has further proved, that all the particles of a body 
put into a state of vibration by communication, are excited 
by motions that are parallel in direction to those of the 
original source of motion. We shall proceed to mention a 
few experiments illustrative of the communication of vibra- 
tions from one body to another. 

Take a long flat plate of glass, and cement it to the edge 
of a bell-shaped vessel of the same substance ; support the 
opposite end by a piece of cork ; cause the glass to vibrate, 
by rubbing the point opposite to the plate with the bow of a 
violin, and the glass vessel will vibrate transversely. The 
sound produced will not be the same as that obtained from 
•either separately, for the bell and the plate will vibrate as a 
system. '^ The bell-glass will vibrate transversely, that is 
to say, the motions of its molecules will be perpendicular to 
its surface ; and these motions will be communicated to the 
rod, without any change in their direction." 

Take a circular glass vessel, and over the mouth, or open 
end, stretch a piece of thin paper^ or some light membrane. 
Upon its surface strew fine sand. Then bring a circular disc 


of glass, the plane of which is parallel to the surface of the 
membrane immediately over the mouth or open end of the 
glass, and the figure which would be formed on one would be 
equally produced on the other. 

The communication of vibrations may be further exhibited 
by another interesting experiment. Let a rectangular plate 
of glass be supported on two vertical pieces of cork, fastened 
to a wooden block or base. In the centre of the horizontal 
glass plate, cement a square plate of the same substance, at 
right angles to it, or in other words, in a perpendicular or 
upright position. Cover the horizontal plate with sand, and 
cause the vertical one to vibrate by rubbing it with a wet 
cloth, a vibration figure will be formed, the nodes being above 
those points which are supported by the cork. 

This experiment may be varied in the following manner. 
Instead of fixing a single vertical plate upon the horizontal 
strip of glass, as in the former experiment, place upon it 
and in the centre, an alternate system of plates and discs ; 
strew all the horizontal surfaces with sand, and put the sup- 
porting plate into a state of vibration ; the sand will arrange 
itself on the plate, on every alternate disc in one particular 
figure, and on every other disc in some other figure. But if 
the apparatus be inverted, the highest disc forming the base, 
the horizontal plate being at the summit, the figures will be 
reversed. The connecting piece between the discs vibrates 
transversely, the discs and plate tangentially. 

From what has been now stated it will be evident, that an 
elastic substance may be put into vibration not only by an 
impulse from contact, or percussion, but also from proximity, 
under certain circumstances, to a vibrating body. When a 


substance is thus excited, it is said to reciprocate to the 
sounding body, and the effect is called resonance- The cause 
of the reciprocation is a communication by the sur, or some 
other agent, of the undulations of the vibrating body to a 
substance previously quiescent. Now it is well known, even 
to those who have not studied the science of acoustics, that 
the undulations of any vibrating body can put into motion 
any other body whose pulses are the same. By modifying 
the voice to the tone of a drinking glass, the latter may be 
made to vibrate so violently as to crack it, a feat that has, 
perhaps, been seen by the majority of our readers. 

We have already given some instances to show the man- 
ner in which vibrations are communicated by solids, and 
how bodies may be made to vibrate as a system. We must 
now endeavour to illustrate the laws of resonance of 
columns of air, a subject which has been carefully investigated 
by Professor Wheatstone*. This might be supposed to come 
more naturally under our consideration, when the action of 
vibrating columns of air, and the construction of wind in- 
struments, had been considered ; but if it be only understood 
that when a tube is made to sound, as we are accustomed to 
say in ordinary conversation, the column of air contained 
in it, is in a constant vibration, there will be no difficulty 
in entering upon the consideration at the present time. 

Mr. Wheatstone commences his interesting paper just 
alluded to, by describing a very beautiful experiment Take 
a flute and bring it to the same tone as a tuning-fork, by 
closing such of the holes as may be necessary for that pur- 

* Quarterly Journal, vol. iii p. 178. 


pose. Then bring one of the vibrating branches of the fork 
over, or near, the embouchure of the flute, and the feeble 
tone at first produced will be suddenly augmented by the 
rich resonance of the column of ear. If the tone of the flute 
be changed by closing another hole, or by opening one that 
had been previously closed, the column of air m\\ no longer 
reciprocate, and the rich melo^ous tone will be diminished, 
or destroyed, altogether. 

Mr. Wheatstone then goes on to prove, that a column of 
far may reciprocate to a sound produced by a wind instru- 
ment. This fact is shown by the following interesting expe- 
riment. Take two flutes which are in unison, or nearly so, 
the one which is not to be blown into, being about a semi- 
tone flatter than the other, as an equivalent for the flattening 
produced by covering the embouchure with the lip. Place 
these flutes near and parallel to each other. Let C sharp 
be produced on the flute prepared for the purpose, and the 
intensity of the sound will be increased or diminished as the 
other is brought near or removed. That this is not produced 
by the passage of any wind into the second flute, is evident 
from the circumstance, that if the instrument be put into a 
condition to produce any other note, by closing one or more 
of the finger-holes, the increase of tone will be no longer 
observed^ for the instrument is not then in a condition to 
reciprocate the original sound. From this, and the previous 
experiment, it will appear, that a column of air, if in a suitable 
condition, will reciprocate to a tone produced by either a 
vibrating plate, or a vibrating column of air. 

If two sounds be obtained simultaneously, from two 
vibrating tuning-forks of diflerent pitch for izistance, either 


sonBd may be made to predominate, by changing the length 
6f the column of air. Bring the two forks when vibrating 
over a closed tube, furnished with a moveable piston ; and 
according as it is lengthened or shortened either sound may 
be obtsuned. This experiment may be made, as recommended 
by Mr. Wheatstone, by selecting two bottles, which may be 
tuned with water, each corresponding to the sound of one 

In this result we have a conclusive evidence of the origin of 
those melodious sounds, obtained when a weak and almost 
inaudible sonorous body is brought near to a previously qui- 
escent column of air. It is but a variation of the experiment 
already described, in which the note of a tuning-fork is altered 
in intensity and quality by the resonance of a column of air. 
We know not to what other cause than that stated already 
the phenomenon could be attributed ; but if there should be 
any doubt of the accuracy of the explanation, the reso- 
nance of one sound by a column of air having a particular 
length, in preference to another produced at the same moment, 
must be conclusive,. 

We must now bring before the attention of the reader a 
new class of phenomena, first observed and investigated by 
Mr. Wheatstone. In all the reciprocated vibrations hitherto 
spoken of, the sounding body and the resonance have been 
in unison ; but Mn Wheatstone has proved that a column of 
air may vibrate by reciprocation, when the number of its vibra- 
tions are any multiple of those of the original sounding body. 
This he proved in the following manner. When a tube, 
closed at one end, was furnished with a moveable piston, he 
found that the tone of a tuning-fork at C was reciprocated 


by the column of air when six inchies in length. The column 
yfSB then diminished to three inches, and the octave of the 
original sound was obtained. By using forks of lower tone, 
and very small tubes, and adjusting the length of the column 
of air, Professor Wheatstone obtained the octave, twelfth, 
double octave, and other concords of the original sound. 
By these experiments he was led to discover the important 
law, that a column of air may vibrate by reciprocation when 
the number of its vibrations is a multiple of those of the 
original sounding body. The converse of this law, he says, 
IS not true. 

Many of the Asiatic and African nations have had musical 
instruments in which unisonant columns of air have been 
employed to augment the sounds produced by vibrating 
metallic plates. An instrument of this kind was brought from 
Java by Sir Stamford Raffles ; and one of them may be seen 
in the museum of the Honourable East India Company, and 
is called the gender. It consists essentially of metallic plates, 
which are suspended by two strings in a horizontal position. 
Beneath each plate is fixed an upright bamboo of a proper 
length, to reciprocate the sound of the plate. When the 
plates, therefore, are struck, a rich and full tone is produced 
by the resonance of the columns of air contained in the 
respective tubes. The sight of this instrument appears to 
have suggested to Mr. Wheatstone the importance of adopting 
the same principle in the construction of musical instruments. 
No serious attempt was made until he undertook the task, 
and how successful he has been is well known to our readers. 
On this subject, however, we shall have occasion to speak more 



fully, after we have alluded to the construction and operation 
of the Jew's-harp. 

The Jew's-harp is the most simple of all the musical instru- 
ments which produce sound by vibrating plates ; and by 
introducing an explanation of it in this place, the importance 
of previously entering upon the consideration of resonance 
will be perceived. The Jew's-harp, or guimbarde, consists 
of an elastic steel tongue fixed in a brass or silver frame, and 
having its disengaged end turned in a direction at right 
angles to the plate, so that it may be struck with the finger 
when the harp is placed in the mouth. The instrument acta 
upon the principle of resonance already described. From 
the tongue itself only one sound can be obtained ; but when 
placed before the mouth, many may be produced by increasing 
or decreasing the volume of sdr in the mouth ; in fact, it will 
obey the law discovered by Professor Wheatstone, and 
bounds will be produced whenever the vibrations of the 
contained volume of air are a multiple of the vibrations of 
the original sound. The number of tones, however> from 
one plate, are at best but few, and to gain a sufficient scale 
several plates must be used. M. Eulenstein, the celebrated 
Jew's-harp player, employed a scale of sixteen plates. 

Several attempts have been made at different times and by 
different persons to construct musical instruments which 
should consist of vibrating plates instead of cords. We have 
seen a model of this sort in the hands of an ingenious me* 
chanic. The plates were ranged parallel to each other ; and 
in external appearance the instrument resembled the model 
of a pianoforte. The compass of the instrument was two 

THE DRUM. 133 

Octaves, aud the vibrations were produced by currents of air 
excited by a pair of foot-bellows. In this instrument the prin- 
ciple of resonance was very imperfectly applied, but the tones of 
the instrument were exceedingly sweet and melodious. Such 
attempts as this have no doubt been frequently made ; but it 
is to Professor Wheatstone alone that we are indebted for 
the full investigation of reciprocation, a development of its 
laws, and an application of them to musical instruments. 

No allusion has yet been made to those instruments which 
essentially consist of stretched membranes. They might have 
been properly considered when we described the action of 
vibrating strings ; but as the sounds obtained from them are 
evidently to be in part attributed to resonance, a short notice 
of the drum, which is a type of them all, will be now more 

The drum is an instrument chiefly used in martial music ; 
but in a particular shape is sometimes introduced In the per- 
formance of concertos. It consists of a cylinder of wood, or 
metal, covered at each end with parchment. To tighten or 
relax the membranes as may be required, a cord is passed 
alternately from a hoop at one end to that at the other^ called 
the bracing-doops. The cords are tightened by leather 

The long and the side drums are^ we believe, almost 
entirely confined to European nations. The Hindoos use 
one in their religious processions, which is about twenty 
inches in length and a foot in diameter. The kettle-drum, 
which has but one vibrating membrane, received its name 
from its peculiar form, greatly resembling that utensil after 
which it is called. The bottom is generally made of copper. 


and it stands on three or four short legs, in the same manner 
as an iron pot. These drums are always used in pairs, one 
being pitched to the key-note, and the other to a fourth 
below. In Rees's Cyclopfledia, a work in which the articles 
on music and musical instruments are exceedingly valuable* 
we find the following yery judicious remarks : ** In some 
instances three kettle-drums have been used. It were to be 
wished, that practice were more common ; because not only 
Xiould the kettle-drums then accompany in the key and its 
adjuncts, but when performing in the key, the perfect ca- 
dence could be completely supported by this powerful instru- 
ment." The instance given by the writer is a piece composed 
in C major, the third drum being tuned a fifth below the key ; 
one would be C, another G, and the third F ; the perfect ca- 
dence would therefore be obtained. 

The kettle-drum is an instrument very common in many 
parts of Asia; it is in fact a royal instrument, and may 
always be found in the train of the monarch. Sometimes 
persons in authority will presume to adopt it, but this is not 
generally allowed. The Hindoos also use a pair of very 
small kettle- drums, called tanblahs, which they carry before 
them. These are struck with the fingers, and by varying 
the intensity of the blow, and the point where it is struck, 
the tones are by no means unpleasant 

From what has been stated in this chapter, we may learn 
that the action of musical instruments does not entirely 
depend on the vibrations of the sounding body. In stringed 
instruments the sound is not produced by the vibration of the 
strings alone, but by the communication of those vibrations 
to the substances that surround them. The violin is an 


example already alluded to ; and experiments have been 
mentioned to prove the absolute vibration of the body of the 
instrument. The pitch of a sound is regulated by certain 
immutable laws, and whatever may be the condition in which 
the vibrating body is placed, the pitch must always be the 
same, all things being equal ; but the quality of the tone 
will be regulated, not only by the material of which the 
cord or string is produced, but also by the means adopted 
to excite the vibrations, and the circomystances under which 
the strings are placed. Every one can i^preciate the differ- 
ence in the quality of a tone obtabed from a violin and 
guitar, a pianoforte and a harp. 

The illustrations adduced to prove aad explain the reso- 
nance of sound, open a new and very interesting field of 
inquiry. The weak and almost inaudible sound of a vibradng 
plate, becomes a rich and melodious tone, when a column of 
air is made to reciprocate to its vibrations. A new class of 
instruments will, therefore, now be introduced, and a pleasing 
variety be given to those which are especially designed for 
private performance. Considering how short a time the 
attention has been drawn to this principle, much has been 
accomplished ; but we look forward to the period, and it is not 
probably far distant, when instruments formed of vibrating 
plates will be among those most esteemed for the softness 
and melodious harmony of their tones. 




Many persons imagine that the production of sound from 
flutes, trumpets, and other wind instruments, arises from the 
vibration of the wood or metal of which they are composed ; 
but it is in fact entirely due to the air that is contained within 
them. This is eiddent from the circumstance that the pitch 
is always the same, the column of air being equal, whatever 
may be the thickness or character of the material employed 
in the construction of the pipe. Thus, for instance, a pipe of 
glass, and another of wood, would give out, under similar 
circumstances, precisely the same note. Flutes are made of 
wood, ivory, glass, and other substances, and yet the same 
tone may be obtained from all. It is true that the quality of 
a sound does in part depend on the substance of which the 
pipe is formed, for there will be a feeble vibration of the 
material arising from the friction of the air within, but it is to 
the motion of the air that the sound must be attributed. 

Allusion has already been made to the analogy between 
the vibrations of air in a pipe^ and the undulations of a 
stretched cord. It must be further observed that a column of 
air in a closed tube may be divided in the same manner, 
into ventral segments by nodes or points in a state of rest. 
Thus if the column of air be set in vibration from the centre 


of the coluDQD^ there will be a constant motion on each side 
in opposite directions, and consequently a division into two 
aliquot parts* 

Mr. Wheatstone has shown that a cylindric or prismatic 
column of air in an open tube may vibrate in any number of 
aliquot parts ; and that in all cases the number of vibrations 
is inversely as the length of a single vibrating part« ** As a 
column of air is capable of reciprocating every sound which, 
according to its different modes of vibration, it is itself capa- 
ble of producing; supposing 1=C^ to represent the lowest 
sound of the tube, it will, without any change in its length, 

., ,, ,,. 123456 

reciprocate sounds whose relations are ^, -, -, -, -, -3, 

7 8. 

''The harmonic subdivisions of a column of air in a tube 
closed at one end, are different ; a semi-vibrating part always 
exists near the closed end, but between two nodes, or a 
node and the open end, complete vibrating parts, as in an 
open tube, exists. The fundamental sound above mentioned 
of an open tube, is given by a tube closed at one end, of one* 
half its length, the series corresponding with the subdivisions, 

compared with the above, is ^, — -3, — , — , &c., and 

these sounds it can consequently reciprocate.'' 

Before we enter further into the consideration of the phi- 
losophical principles of wind instruments, it may, perhaps, be 
desirable to mention one or two instances in which sounds 
are produced by the vibration of columns of air. That our 
book may not be tedious to those for whom it is especially 

138 ^™B FLUTE. 

written, we have blended liistorical details with philosophical 
fmnciples ; and although it may on this account be a less 
connected performance, it will not be the less interesting. 
Tubes intended for the production of sound are of various 
kinds ; some are open at both ends^ some closed, and others 
open at one end« We will first describe and give a short 
history of the flute, an instrument which is closed at one end. 

The flute is the most simple of all the wind instruments. 
It is a tube with seven apertures, one nearly at the end, 
through which the performer blows, and six others^ at fixed 
intervals, which are closed with the fingers, as occasion may 
require for the production of certain notes. Keys also are 
added for the production of the half tones. It consists of 
four pieces or joints, which are inserted into each other. 

Although the flute is a simple, and in this country a very 
common musical instrument^ there are few good players. It 
is not difficult to obtain a command of the keys, and even to 
perform quick passages ; but it is difficult to obtain a clear 
and full tone, or, in other words, a good embouchure. This 
essential object in flute-playing is but little considered, 
although the greatest command of the instrument is useless 
without it. The flute, when well played, is a sweet instru- 
ment, and its tones approach nearer to those of the human 
voice than any other with which we are acquainted. A few 
years ago it was fashionable to play on the flute, and the ear 
was in almost every house tired and disgusted with the abor- 
tive efforts that were made to produce musical sounds. The 
fashion changed, and, to the delight of all persons^ the flutes 
of the young aspirants are now allowed to remain in their cases. 

The word flute has been used as applicable to many very 


differently-constructed ancient instruments. The fistula or 
flute of the Romans, and the tibia or pipe of the same people^ 
were undoubtedly different instruments, but in what the dif- 
ference consisted, cannot be determined with any certainty. 
We are equally at a loss to know the manner in which theie 
instruments were played. Galileo states that the German 
flute, whicli is that we haye already described, — one in which 
the performer blows into an aperture at the side of the tube, 
two or three inches from the closed end, — was invented 
by the Helvetians ; but on the tesselated pavement of Far- 
tuna Virilis, there is the representation of a young man playw 
ing on one of these instruments. There is also in existence 
an antique statue of a fawn with a transverse pipe. Ovid says 
that the flute was invented by Minerva, and was made of box- 
wood. This goddess is said to have invented it from the 
inconvenience of using the syrinx^ or Pan's pipes^ from which 
circumstance it may be supposed that the instrument alluded 
to by Ovid, is not the same as that now called the German 
flute ; for we are told that she found it practicable to obtain 
all the tones from one pipe. It is therefore probable that the 
instriraient referred to was open at both ends, and blown inte 
at one of these. 

We have another reason for the same opinion, in the tale 
that is told to explain why Minerva relinquished the flute, 
her own invention, and adopted the lyre. Her mother, Juno, 
nnd her sister, Venus, derided her whenever she played in 
their presence ; and to know the reason of their mirth, she 
viewed herself in a fountain, and found that her cheeks were 
unnaturally distorted, and her face disfigured. This could 


hardly have happened had it been the transverse flute on 
which she had been playing. 

In the classical Roman authors there are constant allusions 
to the flute, a term which we may suppose to have been 
applied to an entire class of musical instruments. This is 
evident from the manner in which the several kinds are dis<» 
tinguished. Thus we And them nearly always mentioned with 
some particular designation, as, for instance, the Phrygian, 
Lydian, and Sarrana flutes ; equal and unequal, right and 
left-handed flutes. M. le Fevre, who undertook the investi- 
gation of this curious subject, applauds Minerva for her wis- 
dom in throwing the flute into the sea ; but the Greeks, as 
well as the Romans, appear to have had a very different 
opinion of the instrument, for it was held in high estimation 
throughout Greece, and prizes were given to the best players 
at the Panathensean games. 

From the comedies of Terence it is evident that two flutes 
were sometimes played on at the same time, the one held in 
the right hand being called the right, the other the left flute. 
The flutes were sometimes in unison, and the manner in which 
a piece was played was then distinguished according as right 
or left-handed flutes were employed ; when the former, it was 
played " tibiis paribus dextris ;" when the latter, ** tibiis paribus 
sinistris." When the flutes were not in unison, the music was 
said to be played " tibiis imparibus." The right-hand flute 
had a less number of holes than the left, and produced the 
lowest notes. 

An attempt has been made to determine the reasons why 
the same flutes were not always used together, but we have 



not met with any very satisfactory evidence to explain on 
what occasions the ancients associated one kind with the 
other. Donat says that the right-hand flutes were played 
together when the drama was tragical or serious ; the lefU 
hand flutes when it was gay and lively ; and that one of each 
was employed when the character of the piece was an inter<f 
mixture of the lively and solemn. This> however, is an 
explanation which it would be difficult to prove by any satis- 
factory evidence. 

Aristotle says, that when th*^ flute was first invented it was 
considered a mean and ignoble instrument, and was conse-* 
quently only used by slaves ; but that after the Persian 
invasion it became so great a favourite among the higher 
classes that it was almost a disgrace not to be able to per- 
form on it. 

The Thebans were celebrated through all Greece as being 
the best flute-players, and the estimation in which they were 
held from this circumstance was great In Rome also the 
flute was a favourite instrument, and in the time of Horace, 
there were companies or colleges of flute-players. So nu- 
merous, however, were the persons thus employed, and so 
licentious their habits, that it became necessary to abolish the 
order in the reign of Justinian. 

Plutarch says, " nothing is more useful than music to stimu« 
late mankind to virtuous actions, particularly in exciting that 
degree of courage which is necessary to brave the dangers of 
war. To this end some have used the flute> others the lyre. 
The Lacedemonians played upon the flute> in approaching 
the enemy^ the air or melody that was set to the song or 


hymn addressed to Castor; and the Cretans played their 
militarj marches for many ages on the lyre." 

We may here give an acoomit of one or two of the most 
celebrated performers on the flute among the andents. as it 
will tend to illustrate the estimation in which the instrument, 
and the performers for its sake, were held. 

Among the most celebrated performers of antiquity, we 
must place Antigenides, and, judging from what has been 
stdd in his praise, among those best acquainted with the 
science of music. He was a native of Thebes, in Bceotia, and 
tiie son of Satyrus, who was also a celebrated performer. He 
was invited to Athens by Pericles, and enjoyed great popu- 
larity, though he entertuned a very mean opinion of the 
public taste. One day, hearing at a distance a flute-player 
violentiy applauded^ he said, " There must be something 
very bad in that man's performance, or those people would 
not be so lavish of their praises." The same feeling is 
exhibited in another anecdote which is told of him. One of 
his pupils who possessed great talent, and deserved the public 
approbation, had played and received but littie applause : 
"The next time you play," said Antigenides, ''shall- be to 
me and the Muses." He is also mentioned by several of 
the ancient authors as having greatly improved the construc- 
tion of the instrument and increased its compass. 

Dorian also is spoken of as a flute-player who introduced 
many improvements in the instrument, and ¥ras not only the 
contemporary but the opponent of Antigenides, these two 
players being at the head of different schools or sects. From 
the account that is given of him it is probable that he was 


dncouraged among the higher classes of society, and espe- 
cially by Philip of Macedon, as much for his wit as for his 
musical performances. He was everywhere known as a volup- 
tuary and glutton, but his ready humour made him always a 
welcome guest Many of his witticisms have been preserved ; 
we will mention but one. Having lost his shoe when at a 
banquet, and being at the time suffering from gout, he said 
to one who was near him, *< The only harm I wish the thief^ 
IS, that it may fit him." 

It must not be supposed that the flute-players held an infe- 
rior rank in society. Such persons lived in great style, and 
were notorious for the number of their servants, and the lux- 
urious habits of their life. Xenophon recommends a young 
man who cannot obtain the success he desires, to take a large 
house and live in great style, that he may be thought a first- 
rate performer. We may have some idea of the riches they 
accumulated, from the immense suras they frequently gave for 
their instruments. It is reported of Ismenias, that he gave three 
talents, a sum equal to 581/. 5«. for a flute, at Corinth. This 
man, however, was notorious for his profligate habits and for 
his love of finery. Having once commissioned a person to 
buy a jewel for him, it was purchased at a sum which Isme- 
nias considered much below its value : ** You have done your 
business like a fool," said the musician, *' and disgraced the 

Among the female performers of antiquity, Lamia is cer- 
tainly the most celebrated ; how much her fame may have 
been aided by her beauty we cannot determine. She was 
everywhere received with honour, and according to Plutarch, 
equally admired for her wit, beauty, and musical performance. 


She was a native of Athens, but travelled into Egypt to hear 
the celebrated flute-players of that country. During her 
residence at the court of Alexandria, Ptolemy Soter was 
defeated in a naval engagement by Demetrius, and all his wives 
and domestics fell into the hands of the conqueror. Lamia 
was among the number ; but Demetrius was so attracted by 
her beauty and skill, that he raised her to the highest rank, 
and, from her solicitations, conferred such benefits on the 
Athenians, that they gave him divine honours and dedicated 
a temple to ** Venus Lamia." 

Although the ancients were acquainted with the con- 
struction and use of many wind instruments, and were ad- 
dicted to the practice of music, it might be doubted whether 
they were able to» explain the origin of the sounds they 
obtained from their flutes, had we not sufficient evidence to 
prove that they were far from ignorant of the principles of 
music, and the cause of musical sounds. Pythagoras seems 
to have been the first philosopher who carefully observed the 
phenomena of sound. Aristotle pursued the investigation. 
He was acquainted with the nature of the motion by which 
air is capable of producing sound ; and he was not ignorant 
of the fact, that a pipe twice the length of another, gave the 
octave, or that the concords were regulated by the times oc- 
cupied in the vibrations. The extent of information possessed 
by Pythagoras we have no means of determining. 

That the ancients had made considerable progress in the 
science of music, may be gathered from the fact, that Ctesibius, 
of Alexandria, invented the organ, an instrument but little 
different in principle from that used in modem times. It 
consisted of a series of pipes, the valves of which were opened 


by keys forced down by the fingers of the performer. The 
large instruments were supplied with air by hydraulic, the 
small ones by common leather, bellows. ' 

A knowledge of the fact, that a confined current of air 
put into a state of vibration produces sound, will enable 
us to explain many curious natural phenomena ; such, for 
instance, as that mentioned by Baron Humboldt. This enter- 
prising traveller and celebrated philosopher, informs us> on 
the authority of credible witnesses, that subterranean sounds 
resembling the tones of an organ, are heard on the banks of 
the Oroonoko. He accounts for the curious phenomenon on 
the supposition, that there is a difference of temperature 
between the external atmosphere and the air confined in the 
crevices of the granitic rocks which constitute the geological 
formation of the district. The temperature of the confined 
air is greatly increased during the day, it is supposed, from the 
conduction of heat by the rocks ; and as the difference of 
temperature between it and the atmosphere will be at the 
maximum about sun-rise, the escaping current must be the 
origin of the sounds; The projecting elastic films of mica, 
which may, in all probability, project from the walls of the 
crevices, modify and alter the tones that are produced. This 
theory is ingenious, and, as will be perceived by the reader, 
founded entirely upon the principles already stated. There 
is, however, a fact which suggests an objection to our minds. 
The sounds are only heard at particular times, and yet if the 
column of air in the crevice be of a higher temperature than 
the atmosphere, it must be always issuing from the opening. 

It is well known, that in the road between Savoy and 
France, cut by Napoleon, there is, about two miles from 



Led Echelles, a gallery twenty-seven feet high and broad» 
and nine hundred and sixty feet in length, cut through 
the solid rock. Mr. Bakewell states, that when this road 
was nearly complete^ and the excavations commenced at each 
end almost met, the partition was broken through by a pick- 
axe, and a loud and deep sound was heard. Mr. Bakewell 
accounts for this in the following manner. The mountain, 
he says, rises full one thousand feet above the passage, and 
fifteen hundred above the valley. The air on the eastern side 
of the mountain is sheltered both on the south and west from 
the sun's rays, and consequently must be much colder than 
on the western side. The mountain, therefore, formed a 
partition between the hot air of the valley and the cold air 
of the ravines on the eastern side. When the opening was 
made, the cold, and therefore denser air, rushed into that 
rarified by heat, and a loud report was produced^ in the 
same manner as when a bladder is burst over an exhausted 
air-pump receiver. The rumbling character of the sound 
would be produced by reverberation. 

This fact suggests to our mind a curious little instrument, 
invented by Baron Cogniard de la Tour, which he has called 
the sirene. It consists of a circular copper box, about four 
inches in diameter, the upper surface of which is pierced with 
a hundred small oblique apertures ranged in a circle. In the 
centre of this surface there is an axis which carries another 
circular plate, with holes having the same obliquity as those 
on the surface of the box, but in an opposite direction. 
Attached to the box there is a pair of bellows, and a current 
of ur induced by them issues from the small apertures at the 
top of the instrument, and gives a rotatory motion to the 


plate, by which means the holes are alternately opened and 
shut : sound will, of course, be the result of the passage of 
the air, and the pitch will be regulated by the velocity of the 
plate. This instrument produces sounds very similar to those 
of the human voice. 

Before we pass on to a consideration of other wind instru- 
ments, and the prindple of their action, it may be desirable 
to mention the experiment of producing sounds by burning a 
jet of hydrogen in a glass tube ; first observed by Dr. Higgins, 
of Dublin, and afterwards examined by Brugnatelli, Pictet, 
Delarive, Faraday, and others. 

Take a tube formed of some elastic and sonorous substance, 
and if a jet of inflamed hydrogen be introduced within it, a 
musical sound will be produced. That the tone may be 
full and clear, the tube should be open at both extremities ', 
but the sound may be produced in a tube closed at one end, 
if the experiment be carefully managed ; the diameter of the 
tube being sufficiently large to admit the circulation of a 
quantity of atmospheric air to maintain the combustion. 
Delarive, and those who preceded him, state that two con- 
ditions are required for the production of these sounds. 
First, the tube must be formed of some elastic substance — 
one of glass, metal, or dry wood, will be most convenient ; 
but from one formed of pasteboard no sound can be ob- 
tained. Secondly, the flame must be produced by hydrogen 
gas. A. flame from the combustion of the vapour of ether or 
spirits of wine will not produce the same effect. 

M. Pictet says, that the centre of vibration, or in other 
words the point from which the surrounding air obtains its 
undulatory motion, is the place of combustion. This fact 



may be readily proved by changing the position of the flame, 
which invariably causes an alteration in the sound. By 
filling the tube with a dense vapour or smoke, a continual 
succession of vibrations from the point of combustion will be 
observed. From the sides of the tube these vibrations are 
reflected ; and when they are isochronous with the natural 
vibrations of the sounding substance under its peculiar cir- 
cumstances, the intensity is increased, and the sound becomes 
musically appreciable. It appears also, says Delarive, that 
the reflected undulations re-act on the primitive vibrations 
produced in the place of combustion, and render them har- 
monically regular with them ; for a certain space of time is 
almost always necessary before the instrument has acquired a 
regular and full sound : the tone of the tube will be higher 
or lower, according to the greater or less number of undu- 
lations which take place in a given time. Another fact 
worthy of remark, as leading M. Pictet to his theory of the 
origin of the sound, is that the temperature of the column of 
air in the tube is unequal, being greatest of course at the 
point of combustion, and there exceedingly high, sufficiently 
so to keep the jet of a glass tube in a state of constant incan- 
descence. The hot vapour is at the moment of its pro- 
duction in contact with cold air, which is continually entering 
from below and escaping above. This contact with the cold 
air is supposed to produce a momentary contraction in the 
vapour — the intense heat, however, soon restores its bulk ; 
new vapours. succeed, and an alternate expansion and con- 
traction is maintained, causing an undulatory motion in the 
air, and consequently producing sound. 

While M. Pictet was examining the cause of the production 


df sounds in tubes when an ignited jet of hydrogen is intro- 
duced, he observed a similar result, which led hira to a theory 
of their cause. The experiment is sufficiently interesting to 
be mentioned in this place, and is connected with the present 
subject of inquiry. He had a thermometer tube about a line 
in diameter. In the bulb was a drop of water which he 
wished to expel, and for this purpose he exposed it to the 
flame of a spirit lamp : musical sounds were to his great 
surprise produced. To perform this experiment, the tube 
should be from one to three lines in diameter^ and from three 
to five inches in length, and the bulb should be about three 
times the diameter of the tube. A very small quantity of 
water should be introduced into the bulb, which must then be 
exposed to the flame of a spirit lamp, or some other source 
of heat. When the bulb has been thus exposed for a short 
time, sounds will be emitted. 

Four conditions are necessary for the production of 
this efiect. 1, The tube must be supplied with a bulb ; if 
only hermetically sealed at one end the sounds cannot be 
produced. 2, The bulb must contain a liquid capable of eva- 
poration ; but all liquids having this property at the temper- 
ature applied are not suited, as the sounds are not produced 
with either ether or spirits of wine. 3, The temperature of 
the bulb must be raised, and that of the tube be kept as low 
as possible. The production of sounds is dependant on the 
difference of temperature between the bulb and tube. 4, 
Atmospheric air is necessary. 

M. Pictet further observed, when endeavouring to ascer- 
tain the origin of the sounds, that the liquid might be slowly 
vaporized, and the vapour be again condensed, without pro- 


ducing sound. When experimenting with a drop of water 
be could produce the sound immediately the whole of the 
water was evaporated, but no sounds could be obtained so 
long as any liquid remained in the bulb. From this he de- 
duced that the sound was occasioned by the expansion and 
increased elasticity of the vapour by the instantaneous action 
of heat upon it. The theory may be further explained by 
tracing the effects. The tube and bulb are at first filled vrith 
atmospheric air, but as the process of vaporization goes on 
the air is expelled from the bulb, and the vapour occupies its 
place. When all the liquid has been forced into an elastic 
state, the heat acts upon the vapour increasing its tempera- 
ture, and consequently causing expansion. A porticm of it, 
therefore, must rush into the tube, when, coming into contact 
with the colder atmosphere and the sides of the tube, it has a 
^diminution of bulk, and, for an instant, a vacuum is produced. 
The addition of heat restores the bulk of the vapour, and 
contraction again follows. In this manner undulations are 
supposed to be excited in the air. The sounds cannot be 
produced by all tubes, because, as M. Pictet states, the 
reflected undulations from the sides of the tubes do not har- 
monize with the primitive undulations. When the sides of 
the tube gain an increased temperature, the sounds decrease, 
and ultimately die away. That this is the cause of the dimi- 
nution and cessation of the sound, is evident^ he says ; for if, 
when the sounds are no longer heard, the sides of the tube 
are cooled, or the bulb made suddenly hotter, they will be 

This ingenious theory, founded on very accurate observa- 
tions and experiments, was generally received by philoso^ 


phers ; and no further obseryations were, we believe, made 
for many years. 

In the year 1818, the attention of Mr. Faraday was drawn 
to this experiment, and he was soon satisfied by his inquiries 
that no correct explanation had been given of the phenome- 
non. That the sounds did not in any degree depend upon 
the formation of aqueous vapour, he proved by producing 
them with a jet of carbonic oxide, and also showed that they 
are not caused by the vibrations of the tube ; for he obtained 
them when cracked glasses were employed, and when the 
tubes were wrapped in a cloth. 

When the flame is introduced into a tube, a current of 
air will begin to pass, which compresses it into a smaller 
space ; when introduced to a greater distance, and the tube 
becomes warm, the flame is still more depressed, and a faint 
sound is heard. As the intensity of the sound increases, 
vibrations will be perceived in the flame, particularly in the 
upper part Reasoning upon these appearances, and varying 
his experiments, Mr. Faraday was led to the conclusion, that 
the sounds produced by flames in tubes, are caused by a con- 
tinued series of detonations or explosions. For further infor- 
mation on this curious subject, we must refer the reader to 
the original article *. 

It will now be understood that the sounds obtained from 
wind instruments are due to the vibration of the column of 
air they contain : the manner in which these vibrations may 
be excited, is next to be pointed out. There are two ways 
in which the vibrations may be produced ; by blowing over 

• Journal of Science, vol. v. p. 274. 


or into the tube, either at the open end, as in the Pan*s pipe, 
or at the side, as in the flute, and by blowing through a small 
aperture of a particular form, called a reed. 

Those who are accustomed to the use of either of the 
instruments just named, are very well aware that to produce 
musical sounds from them it is not necessary to blow into, 
but over or across the orifice. When the breath is thus 
directed, a small portion will be caught by the edge of the 
tube, and entering, gives an impulse to the contained air, 
causing a slight condensation. The pulse is communicated 
through the whole length of the tube^ and the wave has then 
a retrograde motion. At the embouchure it meets the im- 
pinging current, which for an instant suspends the impulse on 
the edge of the aperture. The condensation is again pro- 
duced, and a pulse is propagated through the column. In 
this way, the current passing from the mouth into the tube is 
constantly interfered with, the interval being equal to the 
time required for the wave to pass twice the length of the 
column, whatever that may be. 

A reed is a narrow aperture in which an elastic plate, 
called the tongue, is so placed, that when excited by a current 
of air, it may by its vibrations, alternately close and open the 
aperture. It is opened by the passage of the air, but returns 
by its own elasticity. Hence, then, it will appear that the 
reed is intended to produce a continued and periodical inter- 
ruption in the continuity of the stream. To this cause the 
sound may be attributed, and its pitch will be regulated by the 
number of the interruptions in a given time. That the reed 
may be truly effective, it is necessary that its own vibrations 
should correspond with the vibrations of the air contained in 


the pipe, or the reed only will produce sound, as will be evident 
from the principles of resonance. To obtain a full and rich 
tone, it is necessary that the column of air should reciprocate 
the sound of the reed, for if it were not so, there would be no 
good reason for the introduction of the pipe. The influ- 
ence of the resonance in the production of musical sounds, 
may be proved by causing the reed to vibrate without placing 
it in a position suited to the production of resonance^ and it 
will then yield a very feeble and imperfect sound. It is not 
absolutely necessary that th6 reed and the tube should be in 
unison, but as the reed has an almost unlimited effect upon 
the tube, the most perfect and the richest tones will be pro<* 
duced when they are so. We must not be understood to 
state, that no musical sound can be produced except when 
the reed and tube are in unison ; but it may be asserted as an 
incontrovertible fact, that the sound is always most pleasing 
when the unison is perfect. The thickness and flexibility of 
the reed, and the size of the pipe, have a certain influence, 
and give a latitude to the statement of the rule. When the 
two essential parts of an instrument have not the power to 
accommodate in any degree their vibrations to each other, a 
tone may be produced, but it will be one inferior in quality. 
There is, however, a point at which the air in the tube will 
cease to vibrate with the reed, and consequently the sound 
will be that of the reed only. The degree of correspondence 
between the reed and the tube absolutely necessary for the 
production of a perfect and full musical sound, will depend on 
the diameter of the tube. In small tubes, the unison with the 
reed must be nearly perfect, or no sound can be obtained ; 


but in large organ-pipes a much greater latitude may be 

The form of the pipe has a great influence on the quality 
of the sound that is produced ; but we need not enter further 
into this subject : it will be sufficient to state, as an ascer- 
tained fact, that the variety arises from the mass of air con- 
tained in the cavity. The material of which the pipe and the 

reed are formed have also to be considered. In the construe- 


tion and arrangement of the tongue great care is necessary, 

or by the contact of the vibrating plate with the edges of the 

orifice, a rough and far from pleasing tone will be produced. 

Supposing the tongue to be formed of metal, and to be so 

placed as to strike upon the edges of a metallic orifice, at 

every vibration the sound would of course be heard, and, 

blending with that obtained from the vibration of the enclosed 

atmosphere, give a harshness to the tone, approaching to a 

scream. But if the vibrating plate be so constructed and 

arranged as to have its motions without contact, though still 

obstructing the passage of the air, touching neither one side 

or the other of the orifice, and if at the same time attention 

be paid to the principle of resonance, a soft and rich tone will 

be obtained. These facts will enable the reader to explain 

the cause of that great variety in the quality of tone observed 

in instruments of the same kind, and perhaps be of some 

service in directing him to the choice of the best instruments. 

The quality of tone in many wind instruments is, however^ 

much less generally observed than in those which act by the 

vibration of strings, although no reason can be given for the 

want of observation, except that they are less understood. 



> MM. Biot and Hamel, when examining the action of a 
vibrating reed, employed a glass tube, that they might have 
a better opportunity of examining the phenomena. Their 
arrangement is represented in figiure 11. T T is a cork or 

Fic. 11. 

a disc of wood, in which the reed is fixed. L is the plate bj 
whose vibrations the aperture in the reed is alternately opened 
and closed. F is a small metallic wire, which is capable of 
being moved upwards or downwards at pleasure, and bent at 
one end in a horizontal direction, so as to press upon the 
moveable plate and confine its vibrations. In using this 
instrument, the philosophers above named first drew the wire 
as far from the vibrating edge as possible, to the point A, for 
example. The tube was then supplied with a constant stream 
of air, and the wire was gradually pushed downwards. The 
lower the wire was forced down, the more acute was the 
sounds as might have been expected ; but there was a certain 
point at which the intensity of the sound decreased^ and at 


last failed altogether. But although no sound was produced> 
the tongue was still in rapid vibration; yet the vibrations 
were made without closing the aperture^ and consequently 
without giving sound. As soon as the wire was pushed a 
little lower the sound was given out again, and of course of 
a higher pitch. 

Before we close this chapter, a short description must be 
given of a few wind instruments ; and first, of those which are 
blown with a reed. 

The hautbois consists of four tubes, that to which the reed 
is affixed being the narrowest ; and the last, being the largest, 
terminating in a wide opening like the trumpet. The bassoon 
is its natural bass, and is also constructed of four pieces, and 
is played by blowing through a crook or mouth-piece to 
which the reed is attached. The instrument would be eight 
feet in length, and consequently most inconvenient in use, 
but it is always bent back, and is therefore only four feet in 
length. The hautbois and its companion instrument have 
apertures and keys resembling those of the flute. Where 
they were invented, and by whom they were brought into 
this country, we have not been able to discover, but in the 
time of Shakspeare they were certainly favourites with the 
public. San Martini and his pupils are ssdd to have been the 
best players ever before a British public. ^* The concertos 
which Vincent used to play fifty years ago, which were 
known to be Martini's, were admirable, full of fire, taste, and 
genius." This passage was written nearly twenty years 
since, and we still have to regret that it is not known what 
became of these compositions. 

The trumpet is a very ancient instrument, and has been 


long employed in military music. It is not, however, con- 
fined to this one use, as every one must know who has been 
accustomed to attend the modem performance of oratorios. 
The rich, clear, and thrilling tones obtained by Mr. Harper 
from the trumpet, and especially when accompanying Bra* 
ham in Luther*s hymn, must he heard before any idea can be 
formed of the power and richness of the instrument 

In the Book of Numbers, of the Old Testament, we are 
informed that Moses made two silver trumpets to be used by 
the priests ; and Josephus informs us that Solomon provided 
two hundred, constructed in the same manner for the use of 
the Levites in the Temple. If we consider the pastoral 
habits of the Israelites when they first settled in the land pf 
Goshen, under the, protection of Pharaoh, it will appear very 
unlikely that they introduced the instrument into Egypt; 
the probability is, that it was invented and used by the 
Egyptians, and the Jews were made acquainted with it by 
them. There are representations of this instrument on the 
arch of Titus. 

The Greeks had several kinds of trumpets ; but without 
entering into a description of the varieties, it will be merely 
necessary to state, that the instrument was known in the tin^ 
of Homer ; and in the year 896 before Christ, prizes were 
given to the best performers at the Olympic games. Timaeus, 
of Elis, was the first who obtained a prize, and may therefore 
be considered as the best performer of his day. Herodotus, 
of Megara, who lived nearly a hundred years after, gained 
ten prizes at the different Grecian games. 

The trumpet has long been used on the field of battle to 
give the signals of onset or retreat Lighted torches were first 


employed for this purpose ; and afterwards sheUs, which were 
the first trumpets. But although the instrument is admirably 
adapted for this purpose by its bold and full tone, it is well 
«alculated, when judiciously introduced, for the performance 
of other music. 

The trumpet has a great compass, but is by no means a 
perfect instrument, and can only sound a certain number of 
notes, called by niusicians trumpet-notes. In the Philo- 
sophical Transactions for 1692* there is a paper by the 
Honourable Francis Roberts, called, *' A Discourse concern- 
ing the Musical Notes of the Trumpet and Trumpet-Marine, 
and of the Defects of the same.'' To this paper we would 
direct the attention of those who are curious to investigate 
with more minuteness the advantages and defects of this 

To conclude the chapter it will be necessary to give the 
reader a short account of the organ ; the instrument, par 
excellence, the one that excels all others in the richness and 
power of its tones, and at the same time may be said to 
Include all others. To describe this complicated instrument 
is not our intention, for it would need a detul unsuited to our 
work, and perhaps be of little interest or advantage to those 
for whom our pages are principally designed. Its history, 
and the principles of its construction, are all that we can 
attempt to give. 

The organ is an ancient instrument ; but although many 
were made at difierent times, it did not come into what may 
be called general use until the eighth century. St. Jerom 

• Vol. xvii. p. 559. 


says, that there was one at Jerusalem which could be heard 
as far as the Mount of Olives. The first organ that was 
brought into France was sent from Constantinople in the 
year 757, by the Emperor Constantine Copronymus as a pre- 
sent to King Pepin. 

There can be little doubt that the organ was known to the 
Romans, from the testimony of Vitruvius, and the epigram in 
its praise by the Emperor Julian. Mersennus says, that 
" the Sieur Naude sent him, from the Matthei Gardens at 
Rome, the form of a little cabinet of an organ, with bellows 
like those made use of to kindle a fire, and a representation 
of a man placed behind the cabinet blowing the bellows, and 
of a woman touching the keys." On the bottom of the 
cabinet was the following inscription : C. F. Scaptia Capi- 
TOLiNUs EX Testamento Fie&o Monumen. Jussit Arbi- 


Luscinius, a Benedictine monk^ and a native of Strasburg» 
who wrote a treatise on music called *' Musurgia," gives a 
description of all the most important instruments of bis own 
day. After speaking of those which consist of vibrating 
strings, he introduces the wind instruments, which he says, 
as they are more costly than others, so they excel all others 
in harmony ; the former are made for the use and pleasure 
of man, but the latter are generally dedicated to the service 
of God. The organ is then mentioned as the most important^ 
In his day there were two kinds, one he calls the portative, 
because it could be carried like many other instruments, from 
one place to another ; and the other the positive, for it was 
usually fixed in churches. 

Authors are by no means agreed as to the time vib.<i^^ ^^ 


organ was first introduced into the church service. It is 
generally supposed to have been done bj Pope Vitalianus, 
who was raised to the pontifical chair in the year 663. Pre- 
vious to this time, however, instruments were used in divine 
service, as appears from the united testimony of Justin Martyr, 
and Ensebius. St. Ambrose, who lived about fifty years 
after Eusebius, caused them to be employed in the cathedral 
church of Milan. Some authors have maintuned, that the 
organ was introduced in the year 1290 by Marinus Sanatos, 
and to support their opinions assure us, that musical instru* 
ments were not known in churches at the time of Thomas 
Aquinas. But they are met by the statement, that Grervas, 
a monk of Canterbury, mentions an organ in' his description 
of Lanfranc's church, before the fire in 1174. From these 
conflicting statements it may be fairly concluded, that the 
precise time when the organ was first introduced into churches 
cannot be fixed with certainty ; nor indeed is it a matter of 
great importance, except to those who have an objection to 
instrumental music in divine service, and are anxious to find 
some plea from the state of the Christian church at that 

It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the organ consists 
of a series of pipes which are supplied with air by a pair of 
bdlows. Some of these tubes are closed, some of them are 
open, and the modes of vibration are consequently diffoent. 
By the means of certain stops, the communication may be 
opened between different sets of tubes, and the quality of 
the tones greatly varied. 

From the statements made in the last three chapters, it will 
be evident, there are three classes of musical instruments. 


those which produce musical sounds from strings, those which 
are formed of elastic plates and bars, and those enclosing a 
column of air capable of independent vibration. The laws 
governing the production of sound in these three instances, 
so far at least as they could be expluned in a popular man- 
ner, have been stated ; and lest the reader should find a 
continued philosophical discussion tedious or uninteresting, 
a short history of some of the most important musical instru- 
ments has been introduced. 




A NOTE, that is a single musical sound, is called a unison ; 
whether this is a word which conveys the meaning intended 
by those who use it, is not now to be considered. There 
are many terms in art and in science, sanctioned by custom, 
but having little claim to general use from any other circum- 
stance. In the organ and pianoforte, commonly distinguished 
as keyed instruments, there are in each octave twelve notes, 
seven of which are produced by white, and five by black keys. 
It is generally supposed, that the musical scale was invented 
by Guido, of Arezzo ; or, according to others, that it was an 
improvement upon the Grecian scale, and called the gamut 
from the Greek letter gamma, as an acknowledgment of the 
assistance he derived from the scale of that celebrated nation. 
In musical composition sounds are represented by marks of 
different kinds, which are distmguished from each other by 
being placed either on or between, above or below, ^ve 
parallel lines, which are together called a staff, as represented 
in figure 12. The names given to the several notes are as 

Fig. 12. 



follows— do, re, mi, fk, tol, la, si, do ; or according to the 
modem system they may be distinguished by the first seven 
letters of the alphabet, a, b, c, d, e, f, o. 

The same note has not always the same name, for that 
depends on the clef which is distinguished by a mark at the 
beginning of a musical composition. There are three clefs — 
the treble, or highest ; the tenor, or mean ; and the bass, or 
lowest* The method of representing these, and the names 
given to the several notes, may be learned from the following 
figure. The treble is called the 6 clef; the^ tenor, the C 

Fig. 13. 

def ; and the bass, the F clef ; the reason of this will be 
evident from an examination of the figures which represent 
them ; the treble being on the second, the tenor on the third, 
and the bass on the fourth line. 
It may be here necessary to remark that the position of 




the several clefs must be attended to in reading music. The 
treble clef is now always placed on the second line ; but in 
some old scores we find it occasionally on the first line, and 
in this case all the notes on that line will be G ; so if the 
tenor clef be removed from the third to any other line, the 
notes on that line will be C. When the G clef is on the first 
line it is called high treble : when the C, or tenor clef, is on 
the first line, it is called the soprano clef ; when on the second, 
the mezzo soprano ; when on the third, the counter-tenor ; 
and when on the fourth, the tenor clef. In the old church 
music, the bass, or F clef, is frequently on the third line^and 
it is then called the barytone clef. 

The reader will have some difficulty in obtuning a thorough 
acquaintance with the notation of music ; but it is the first 
step in the study of the science, and that without which no 
progress can be made. The object of the clefs is evidently 
to bring the notes within a certain range, for as in score the 
parts are placed one above the other, the notes of one part 
would interfere with those of another if they were allowed 
to run up or down to the extent above the staff otherwise 
required. Even now it is necessary that some notes should 
be above, and some beneath the staff, and separate Imes are 
therefore added to the notes, as in the following figure. 

ABC A B c D 

Fig. 14. 

The lines which are here added are called ledger lines. A 


little practice will giye a facility in reading all modem music ; 
but with this the reader should not be satisfied, or he will be 
excluded from the study of the rich and imaginative music of 
the early schools. 

Hitherto we have considered all notes, as though they 
were of an equal length or duration ; but it is evident that in 
the composition of music, there must be a variety in this 
particular ; some will be played slowly^ others with great 
rapidity. To represent duration, notes of different forms are 
used ; they are all shown in the following table, and their 
relative durations are assigned them. 

A Large is equal to two Longs. 

A Long is equal to two Breves. 

A Breve is equal to two Semibreves. 
O A Semibreve is equal to two Minims. 

Q A Minim is equal to iyfo Crotchets. 

P A Crotchet is equal to two Quavers. 

P A Quaver is equal to two Semiquavers. 

A Semiquaver is equal to two Demisemiquavers. 

A Demisemiquaver. 

The quaver, and other notes of less duration, are frcquenUy 



grouped together by one or more broad connecting lines, as 
in the following figure. 

Fio. 15. 
A dot is frequently placed on the right-hand side of a note, 
and adds to its duration one half. 

From what has been already stated, it will appear^ that the 
difference of tone usually called in ordinary language high or 
low, shrill or hoarse, is in music called pitch. There is then 
some difference between one tone and another, which may be 
considered as distance, space, or in musical language, an 
interval. To obtain an accurate idea of what is meant by 
this term is absolutely necessary. 

The alteration from one tone to another may be made 
by sensible or insensible degrees. If for instance the fingers 
be pressed on the string of a violin, and gently drawn over 
it, the performer will become conscious of an alteration of tone ; 
but one sound will so blend or run into another, that it will 
be impossible to detect any sudden or very evident change 
at any moment. But let the experiment be performed in 
another way. First take the sound of the open istring, and 
afterwards that obtidned in the former experiment, when the 
finger was pressed on the highest point to which it was 
carried. In this case there is a sudden start from what would 
be called a low to a high note ; or in other words, a per- 
ceptible interval between the pitch of the two sounds. 


' When a man and woman are singing together the same 
note, it might be supposed that they were singing at the 
same pitch. This is not however the case, for the interval 
between the two is made up of seven disUnct steps, as may 
be proved by the former raising his voice from one tone to 
another ; by which means he will find, that the female voice 
is an octave above his own. Now the whole scale of music 
is confined to one octave, and the notes or tones which 
compose the octave are, as already stated, designated by the 
syllables — do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do. 

If the Jreader should know sufficient of music to sing the 
scale of notes, or gamut, to the syllables above enumerated^ 
he may soon become conscious that it is divided into two 
parts or phrases, and this will be more observable if he 
be first told to make a short rest at the syllable fiu By 
singing these notes in their order several times, he will pr6« 
bably notice, that there is a great similarity between the 
intervals of the several notes in each phrase ; and the question 
may be suggested, what relation have the several intervals 
of each succeeding note to each other ? If the ear be left to 
judge on this question, it will detect that the interval between 
do and re is greater than that between mi and fa, which 
seem to gradually slide into each other instead of having that 
decided step so evident in passing from do to re ; he will 
also become conscious of a longer interval between sol and 
la, than si and do. But by what means can the relative pro- 
portion between the longer and shorter intervals be measured ? 
There are no means by which this can be done ; but it is cus- 
tomary to estimate the interval between mi and fa, and si and 
do, as half that from do to re, or re to mi. It will then now 


be eyident, that the scale may be greatly extended, for if the 
ioterraU mi to fa, and si to do, are only half notes, half notes 
may be introduced between the whole tones, and the musical 
scale will consist of twelve equal steps, or thirteen notes, 
instead of seven unequal steps, or eight notes. 

It will now be understood, that to extend the scale of 
natural notes, a semitone is introduced between every interval 
that separates whole tones. The note introduced above any 
natural note is represented by the following character K, 
and is called a sharp ; whUe the figure b> called a flat, is 
attached to that below. Hence then it will appear, that a 
sharp is a semitone higher than the natural of the same name, 
and the flat is a semitone lower. Thus A sharp, which in 
the pianoforte or organ is a black key between A and B 
natural, is a semitone higher than A natural. So also A flat 
is a black note between A and G natural. From these par- 
ticulars it will be easy to understand why D sharp and £ flat 
are produced from the same key, or in other words are the 
same note. The white keys represent the natural, or as they 
are sometimes called, diatonic notes ; and the black ones the 
sharps and flats, or in other words, the artificial notes. 

A double sharp is a whole tone above a natural note, and 
a double flat a whole tone below. Thus A double sharp is 
B natural, and A double flat is G natural. 

A scale is a regular succession of notes which may be 
repeated to any number of octaves higher and lower, only 
limited by the compass of the instrument and the capability 
of hearing. 

The diatonic scale, which is that already spoken of, con- 
sists of five tones and two semitones. 


It is not easy to determine why the term chromatic has 
been applied to a scale of music. Some persons imagine 
that it has been adopted because the Greeks were accustomed 
to distinguish the notes by different coloured characters; 
and others think that it may have been employed, because 
the scale Js intermediate between the diatonic and en- 
harmonic scales, as colours are between white and black. 
There are other writers who maintsun, that the term chro- 
matic was adopted because its semitones embellish and give a 
richness to the diatonic scale, as a variety of colour does to 
a painting. These remarks will almost render it unnecessary 
to state that a scale in which the semitones are inserted be- 
tween the natural tones is a chromatic. 

The enharmonic scale has intervals smaller than the semi- 
tones, such as quarter tones and commas. ** It is formed," 
says Mr. Gwilt, ^* by uniting the ascending with the descend- 
ing scale of the chromatic genus, by the use of an interval 
created between the sharpened note of the preceding and 
the flattened note of the succeeding one. These, though not 
exactly equal to half a semitone, are^ from their approximation 
to that quantity, called dieses, or quarter tones.*' 

As our remarks on the elements of music are entirely con- 
fined to the one object of removing the difficulty many young 
persons experience at the commencement of their studies, it 
will not be necessary to enlarge this part of our work further 
than may be required for the explanation of those characters 
by which time is represented. Musicians are accustomed to 
distingubh between the duration to be occupied in performing 
the notes of a bar, by considering time to be of two sorts, 
common and triple. 

170 TlMfi. 

In common or double time,eTery bar has a measure equal in 
duration to either a mmim or a semibreve ; in the former there 
will be two crotchets, or four quavers ; and in the latter, four 
crotchets, or eight quavers. But what, we may be asked, b 
to be the duration of the minim or semibreve ? The relative 
duration of the several kinds of notes is known, what is to 
be the standard of comparison ? If the minim, or crotchet, 
or anj other note, be taken as the standard, how is its dura- 
tion to be determined ? 

The movements in common time are various, and at best 
are only relative ; one is slow, another rather quicker, and a 
third very fast. The slowest is represented by a large C 


placed immediately ader the clef. The 

intermediate time is represented by the same figure, but a 

vertical line is drawn through it thus f ^ . When 

the quick time is to be employed, the curved part of the 
letter is reversed, and a vertical bar introduced, as in the alla- 
breve, a name by which the middle time is often known : thus 


Triple time is so called because when it is used the bars 
may be divided into three parts. It is represented by figures 
placed as a fraction after the clef; the denominator, or lower 
one, showing into how many notes the semibreve is divided, 
and the upper one how many such notes are contained in a 

bar. Thus ■ K shows that the upper figure repre- 

TIME. 171 

senti three minims in a bar, for there are two minims in a 
semibreve, and two is the denominator. 


signifies three crotchets in the bar; X ^^ 






The history of music, among the ancient nations, and even 

until some time after the Christian era, is so imperfect, that 

a very casual notice will be all that can be required by the 

reader. To investigate those laborious criticisms and curious 

theories which have taken the attention of some writers would 

be now an unprofitable task. 

The art of combining sounds so as to produce an agreeable 

impression on the ear must have been studied at an early 

period in the history of man. The music of nature delighting 

the ear, would suggest to him the combination of sounds, and 

imitation, if no other principle were active, prompt the trial. 

This is the explanation given by Lucretius of the origin of 

music :— • 

" Through all the woods they beard the charming noise 
Of chirping birds, and tried to frame their voice 
And imitate. Thus birds instructed man, 
And taught them songs before their art began ; 
And whilst soft evening gales blew o'er the plains, 
And shook the sounding reeds, they taught the swains ; 
And thus the pipe was framed, and tuneful reed.'* 

It may be fairly imagined, and has been stated by all 
writers, that vocal music preceded instrumental, bat the 
introduction of a system and a method of notation cannot be 


attributed to an early age. Long after the power and com- 
pass of the human yoice had been discovered, and certain 
combinations of sounds which we call songs or tunes had been 
introduced, instruments must have been inyented, rude at first 
in their construction, and imperfect, but by degrees improved 
until they were fit to accompany the singer. Wind instru- 
ments 'may be supposed to have preceded all others^ but 
the sounds obtained from vibrating strings were not long 

The power of music is not only acknowledged by all the 
ancient writers, but also greatly exaggerated. We acknow- 
ledge it has a strange influence over the feelings; but there 
are few of those persons who are intent on the civilization of 
the barbarous tribes in foreign countries who would consider 
the introduction of music effective for their purpose. But 
according to Polybiu8,,the Arcadians, who inhabited a cold 
and inhospitable country, could' be tamed by no other means, 
and the inhabitants of Cynetus, who neglected the study, 
were more cruel than any other Grecian tribe. This favourite 
theory, that music has an influence in softening the disposition 
and exciting a tenderness of feeling, was not proved in the 
case of Nero, who played on his flute when Rome was burning. 
On the other hand, it is not our intention to deny that music 
may have an influence on national character, and it is certain 
our recollections are intimately connected with favourite 
songs, of which there is a pleasing example in the fact that 
the Swiss mercenaries were forbidden to sing or play, under 
the penalty of death, the ** Rans des Vaches,** as it always 
produced a melancholy feeling among them. 



The antiquity of the Egyptians, the early establishment of 
a regular system of government, and the remarkable progress 
of the arts and sciences, direct our attention to the state of 
music among them. When Abraham visited Egypt, in con- 
sequence of a famine^ this people must have made some 
advance towards a civilized stat^ for they had not only esta- 
blished a system of civil policy, but were regulated by prin- 
ciples of justice and hospitality. The Scripture history also 
bears testimony that the Egyptians were a powerful and 
learned people when the family of Jacob, seventy persons in 
number, settled among them. 

Nearly all the information we have concerning the state 
of music among the Egyptians is derived from the OreeK 
writers. Herodotus, who travelled in Egypt, says, that it 
was used in all their religious ceremonies and festivals ; and 
Strabo informs us the children were taught music as well 
as letters. The evidence of Diodorus Siculus on this subject 
can scarcely be credited, for after stating that music was pro- 
hibited, he ascribes to the Egyptian deities the invention of 
music and musical instruments, and admits all the principal 
Grecian poets and musicians to have travelled in Egypt to 
improve themselves in those arts. 

In other parts of this work we have had occasion to men- 
tion some of the Egyptian instruments, and it may be further 
stated that in the sepulchres of the kings of Thebes there are 
representations of four different kinds of harp, one of which 
has four and another thirty-eight strings. 

The Egyptians are believed to be the inventors of the 


monaulos or single flute> which in form resembled a bull's 
iiorn, and is so represented in their ancient sculpture. Apu- 
leius informs us that a crooked flute was employed in cele- 
brating the mysteries of Isis. Many other instruments are 
exhibited on the ancient sculptures, and from these as well as 
the testimony of the Greeks, who derived the elements of 
all their knowledge from the Egyptians^ we know this people 
had made great advances in the practice of the pleasing 
art. After the conquest of the country by Cambyses, 525 
years before Christ, music, as well as other sciences, was 
patronized and flourished, but the Egyptian character was 
now merged in that of the foreigners who possessed the soil. 
The learned from Greece were welcomed to Alexandria, and 
the musical talent of the inhabitants during the reign of the 
seventh Ptolemy, according to Athenseus, was so great, 
that there was scarcely a labourer near the capital who was 
not a master of the lyre and the flute. 


The deep interest which has been felt in every age of the 
Christian era in the history, habits, and opinions of the He- 
brews, has drawn .the attention of many learned men to the 
state of musical science among them ; and although their 
researches have not been attended with any great success, we 
cannot pass over this interesting portion of history without 
some notice. But little information can be gathered from the 
Holy Scriptures, either in reference to the character of their 
music, or the instruments they employed. 

The first and only allusion to music in the age preceding 
the Deluge we find in a short account of Tubal, the sixth 


descendant from Cun, who u sud to have been ** the father 
of all such as handle the harp and the organ*." Jubal 
lived only a short time before the Flood, which happened in 
the year 1656, a.m., and we may therefore conclude that the 
early inhabitants of the earth were almost if not entirely 
unacquainted with musical instruments. It must not be sup- 
posed by^the term organ is meant the perfect but compli- 
cated instrument so called by way of pre-eminence in the 
present day, for all commentators are of opinion it was 
nothing more than a series of tubes closed at one end and 
formed of reeds in the same manner as the Pandean pipe. 

No further allusion to music or musical instruments can be 
found in the Scriptures till about six hundred years after the 
Deluge. ** And Laban said to Jacob, Wherefore didst thou 
flee away secretly and steal away from me, and didst not tell 
me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with 
songs, with tabret and with harp f ? *' The word here trans- 
lated " tabret " is in some places called " the timbrel," but 
what was the nature of the instrument commentators are by 
no means agreed. We may, however, conclude that as 
Laban was a Syrian, both the tabret and the harp may be 
classed amongst the Assyrian instruments. 

The attention is next called to the very beautiful song of 
Moses, after the passage of the Red Sea, when the Israelites 
had just escaped from bondage in Egypt. ** Then sang 
Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, 
and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath tri- 
umphed gloriously ; the horse and his rider hath he thrown 

* Genesis, iv. 21. f Genesis, xzzi. 27. 


into the sea ... « And Miriam, the prophetess^ the sister 
of Aaron, took a dmbrel in her hand, and all the women went 
out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam 
answered them. Sing je to the Lord, for he hath triumphed 
gloriously ; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the 
sea*." The passage here referred to is interesting, not 
only as the first recorded instance of an address to Deity in 
a song or psalm of praise, but as a sublime expression of 
triumphant and pious feeling. It is also an instance which, 
even in this early age of the church, gives a sanction to the 
introduction of musical instruments in the performance of 
religious worship. Dancing may> perhaps, be accounted for 
from the circumstance that Miriam was an Egyptian, and it 
is well known that in her own country the people were accus- 
tomed to blend both music and dancing in their addresses to 
their gods. This practice seems to have been afterwards 
common among the Hebrews, for when they compelled Aaron 
to make them a golden calf, said to have been in imitation of 
the Egyptian Apis, Moses found them, on his return from 
Sinai, singing and dancing around it. The daughter of 
Jephtha welcomed her father with dmbrels and with dances, 
and David, on his return after slaying Goliath, was met by 
the women of Israel, ** singing and dancing, with tabrets, 
with joy, and with instruments of music." 

The next sacred song inserted in the Scriptures is that 
sung by Deborah and Barak> which was apparently in the 
form of a dialogue, and unaccompanied by instruments. 
We have no account, until the time of David, of any other 

♦ Exodns, XV. 1 — 21. 


iattruments, or nnine of an/ dewripdoo, excepting the 
pets, of which there are two kinds, the trmnpet of the jubilee* 
and the tmmpet of rams-horns used on warlike eipeditioii% 
such as the siege of Jericho. 

We hare seen that poetry and mnsic were united mammg 
the Hebrews ; and it is evident from manj passages of Seiip- 
tare, that the prophets were accustomed to defiTcr their 
inspired messages in the same manner. After Samnd luid 
anointed Saul king of Israel, he teHs him, ** It shalt eoase to 
pass, when thou art come to the city, that thou shalt meet- a 
company of prophets coming down from the high place witli 
a psaltry, a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them, and 
$hej shall prophesy. And the spirit of the Lord will oome 
upon thee and thou shalt prophesy with them." In aaoiher 
place it is said, ** David, with the captains of the host, ae p a p 
rated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, aad 
of Jedathan, who should prophesy with harps, with ptaltiies» 
and with cjrmbals.* And again, Elisha, when the armies of 
Israel* Judah, and Edom, were near perishing from thirst in 
the wilderness* commanded a minstrel to be brought to him, 
*' and it came to pass when the minstrel played, that the 
hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, thus saith 
the Lord." 

The influence of music upon the mind at this early age* b 
very remarkably shown in its power over the troubled spirit of 
Saul. " And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God 
was vpon Saul, that David took a harp and played with hb 
hand, so Saul was refreshed, and was well* and the evil spirit 
departed from him." 

The association of music and poetry ii more remarkably 


evinced in the history of David than inr any other portion of the 
sacred writings. All the compositions in the Book of Psalms 
were undonbtedly written for singing or chanting, some 
being intended for private and personal devotion^ and others 
for public services. In the first Book of Chronicles, we 
have an account of the musicians employed by David in 
Teligious services ; and in the same book we find the foUowiag 
remarkable passage, " God gave to Heman fourteen sons and 
three daughters, and all these were under their father^for song 
in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psaltries, and 
harps ^.'' And in the same chapter it is said, " So the num- 
ber of them with their brethren that were inf tructed in the 
songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning, was two 
hundred four score and eight f." Four thousand Levites 
also were appointed for the same purpose. In another part 
tof the holy Scriptures:^, a description is given of the con- 
struction of some of the Jewish instruments ; " And David 
and all the house of Israel played before the Lord upon all 
manner of instruments made of fir-wood, even on harps, and 
on psaltries, and on timbrels, and comets, and cymbals." 

In the reign of Solomon, during which the Hebrew nation 
appears to have been in k state of the greatest prosperity, 
music was not disregarded ; one passage only need be quoted 
in proof of this statement: "Solomon appointed, according 
to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to 
their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and 
minister before the priests as every day required §." 

• 1 Chron. xxv. 5. f IWd. 7. $ 2 Sam. vi. 5. 

§ 2 Chron. viii. 14. 

N 2 


Josephus states, that when David had established the tran- 
quillity of his country, he employed himself in composing 
psalms, and preparing instruments on which he taught the 
Levites to perform ; and among others he enumerates a ten- 
stringed harp, and a psaltry with twelve chords. The practice 
of sacred music in public devotions is evident from many 
passages, but we shall only quote one other in proof of the 
statement : '* And the sons of Aaron the priest shall blow 
with the trumpets, and they shall be to you for an ordinance 
for ever throughout your generations." 

After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, 
and the consequent captivity of the Jews for a term of seventy 
years, music, both as a sacred ordinance and a source of per- 
sonal gratification, was in all probability entirely neglected. 
*' By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down, yea we wept 
when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the 
willows in the midst thereof, for there they that carried us 
away captive required of us a song, and they that wasted us 
required of us mirth, saying, Sing to us one^of the songs of 
Zion : How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land *?** 

In the year 536 B.C., Cyrus permitted the Jews to rebuild 
their temple, and re-establish their ancient form of worship ; 
the spirit of their ancestors was however lost, their depend* 
ence upon Divine Providence and the God of their fore- 
fathers was shaken by the introduction of a vain-glojious 
i^pirit ; and the rejection of the Messiah completed their 
overthrow, without leaving one honourable momcnto in this 
concluding page of their history. Titus Vespasian, by the 

* Psalm 137. 


destruction of their city, terminated their existence as an 
independent people. The mean and pusillanimous spirit 
\(rhich they exhibited previous to and at the time of the 
Saviour's advent, and their proud pharisaical boasting when 
he dwelt among them, foretold the sudden and utter fall they 
Boon after experienced, which has so literally fulfilled the 
warnings frequently uttered in their hearing. 

The Jews had no regular series of musical characters, 
Unless we can believe that the vowel points have answered 
this purpose. Dr. Bumey informs us, he was assured by a 
learned Jew, that ** in reading the prophets they merely mark 
accentuation ; but in singing them, they regulate the melody 
not only as to long and short, but high and low notes." 


The early hbtory of the ancient Greeks is so enveloped in 
fable, that there is much difBculty in forming any accurate 
opinion of the state of society, or of the arts, from the de- 
scriptions which have been left us by their historians. We 
shall, however, endeavour to give a brief account of a few 
of the fables, which are connected with the history of music. 
The Greeks were accustomed to connder music as the 
foundation of aU the sciences, as well as the principal source 
of gratification. On this account they paid much attention 
to the laws of harmony, for in fact they imagined all the dis- 
positions of physical existence to have been made in reference 
to a particular system of concords. 

Jupiter, who is called the father of gods and men, was 
bom in the island of Crete, and brought up in a cave of 
Mount Ida. Immediately aflter his birth, the Idsei Dactyli 


danced around him in armour, clashing thehr. swords : a rade 
kind of miisic, and, perhaps, the only one known at this 
pieriod. Cadmus, the son of Agenor, was a eontemporarj 
with the Cretan Jupiter, and introduced into Greece a race 
of Phoenicians called Curetes, who brought ^th; them the 
arts and sciences of their native country. This people 
settled in Phrygia and Crete ;; in the former they were called 
Corybantes, and in the latter Daotyli. Cadmus is said to 
have espoused Harmonia, who was so skilled in music, that 
the art itself was called after her name. . Diodorus Siculus 
has described the marriage ceremony, which was. attended by 
ihe gods; Mercury with his lyre and Minenra with her; flutes 
Apollo also was present, and his lyre was accompanied by 
the flutes of the Muses. 

In a former part of this work we have stated, that the 
ancienti attributed the flute to Minerva and the lyre to 
Mercury ; but Apollo was the first who played upon the 
lyre, and accompanied it with his voice ; for Mercury having 
stolen his oxen, presented him with his instrument as a peace* 

*^ To Pho&bue, M«ia*8eoD presents the lyre^ 
A gift intended to appease his ire ; 
The god receives it gladly, and assays 
The novel instrument a thousand ways. 
With dexterous skill the plectrum wields, and sings 
With voice accordant to the trembling strings ; 
Such strains as men and gods approved, from whence 
The sweet alliance sprang of sound and sense." 

Mereury; the sOn of Jupiter and Maia> was supposed to be 
the patron of learning and all the ornamental arts, which may 
in some degree account for the intention of the lyre being 


attributed to him, but he is also noted for his theits. Horace 

has given averj vivid description of his propensities, in one> 

of his odes, which has been prettily translated by Francis : — 

" Thou god of wit, from Atlas sprung, 
Who, by persuasiye power of tongue. 
And graceful exercise, refined 
The savage race of human kind. 
Hail ! winged messenger of love 
And all th* immortal powws above, 
Sweet parent of the bending lyre. 
Thy praise shall all its sounds inspire. 

Artful and cunning to conceal 
Wbate'er in sportive theft you steal, 
When fiqm the god who gilds the pole, 
E*en yet a boy, his herds you stole ; 
With angry voice the threat'ning power 
Bade thee thy firaudful prey restore, 
But of his quiver too b^uiled. 
Pleased with the theft, Apollo smiled.** 

The Muses, who must be especially mentioned in a history 
of music, are supposed to have been a company of singers 
engaged in the worship of Osiris, the Egyptian Bacchus. 
But the Greeks consider them the daughters of Jupiter and 
Mnemosyne, or Memory. The attributes of these ladies have 
been described by Callimachus ; Calliope sang the i;Nrabes o£ 
heroes; Clio recorded. in her song the deeds, of past ages; 
Melpomene's songs were, plaintive, and Thalia's were full of 
mirth and gaiety ; each had her own especial province, aQd 
can only be considered as the representative of a particular 

Bacchus is said to have . invented theatrical representa- 
tions and established schools of. music, in which those who 


distinguished themselves were exempted from all military 
service, and in after ages enjoyed many especial privileges. 
This circumstance will account for the splendid exhibitions 
which were always prepared in honour of this god ; and the 
term ** servants of Bacchus/' is not applicable to those who 
indulged to excess in wine, but to actors, and especially to 
such as performed in those pieces in which music and dancing 
were introduced. The exhibitions in honour of Bacchus were 
at last attended by such extreme licentiousness that in the 
year 186 before Christ, they were abolished throughout the 
Roman empire by the senate. 

In the catalogue of musical gods, we must not omit the 
merry Pan, the inventor of the pipes called after his name, 
who, although inferior in his divinity, must be placed among 
the most celebrated of the musicians. He was the constant 
companion and counsellor of Bacchus, and aided at all his 
carousings with the melody of his pipes. 

We shall only mention the Sirens in addition to the im- 
mortals already enumerated. These three celebrated singers 
resided on the coast of Sicily, and were terrestrial divinities 
half women and half fish. Homer introduces them in the 
twelfth book of the Odyssey, where he gives a very vivid 
description of their fascinating power. The following is a 
part of Circe's warning to Ulysses, as translated by Pope :-^ 

** Next where the Sirens dwell you plough the seas, 
Their song is death, and makes destruction please. 
Unblest the man whom music wins to stay 
Near the curst shore, and listen to the lay ; 
No more that wretch shall view the joys of life, 
His blooming offspring, or his beauteous wife. 


Flee swift the dangerous coast ! let every ear 
Be stopt against the song ! His death to hear ! 
li^irm to the mast thyself with chains he bound, 
Nor trust thy virtue to the enchanting sound.** 

From this short account of the fabulous age, it will be evi- 
dent that music was one of the principal amusements of the 
ancient Greeks, and was so highly esteemed, that those who 
excelled in the practice or science were considered worthy of 
being rused to the rank of divinity. The simplest state of 
society is that in which a people are chiefly devoted to pas* 
toral pursuits. Such was, in all probability, the condition of 
those who first settled in Greece ; but an heroic age suc- 
ceeded, and both poetry and music, kindred arts, were 
employed in celebrating the warlike exploits and valorous 
enterprises of contending chiefs. 

The history of the Grecian heroic age is not much less 
intermixed with fable than the period which immediately pre- 
ceded it ; but amid the confused representations and conflicting 
characteristics of those individuals whose names and talents 
have been recorded, we may collect some information that 
may probably lead us to a knowledge of the state of musical 
science. Amphion^ Chiron, Linus> and Orpheus, are the 
most remarkable early Grecian musicians. 

The musical reputation of Amphion is not supported by 
any very conclusive evidence in the Greek authors. It was 
he who dethroned Luus, and, to secure his conquest, built a 
wall with strong towers and seven gates round Thebes. He 
married Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus ; and Pausanias is 
of opinion that his musical reputation arises from this circum- 
stance. He is not mentioned by Homer as a mu8icianL\ ^^v. 


other writers are of opinion that he acquired the art in Lydia 
and introduced it into Greece. 

Chiron, who is styled by Plutarch " the wise centaur/* was 
born in Thessaly. He is said to have lived in a cavern^ at 
the foot of Mount PelioD> and was the inventor of botany, 
medicine, and surgery : he was also renowned as a practical 
astronomer, having grouped the constellations for the use of 
the Argonauts. Attracted by his knowledge of the-scienees^ 
the Grecian youths from all parts of the country attended on 
lus instructions, and among the most celebrated of his pupils 
we may mention Achilles, to whom he taught, as Apollodoms' 
informs us, the science of music, as an incitement to virtuoua 
actions, and a bridle to the impetuosity of his temper. Ffom^ 
the ruins of Herculaneum a painting was obtained which- 
represents Chiron teaching Aphilles the use of the lyre. He 
was accidentally killed by a poisoned arrow from the bow of 
Hercules, one of his pupils. Some of the ancient writers, 
however, consider Hercules as the pupil of Linus, akid by> 
them we are informed that the musician finding his pnpil 
obstinately stupid, was once provoked to strike him, which.- 
BO enraged the young hero, that he seised the lyre from the 
hands of his master, and killed him by a blow on the head. 

Orpheus has the highest reputation among the Greeks for 
his musical talent He embarked in the Argonautic expe- 
dition, and not only excited the courage of his companions 
with the tones of his lyre, but silenced the Sirens by the 
sweeter music of his voice and instrument. He has also the 
fame of inventing the science of magic ; but the fable which 
is told of his attempting to restore to earth his wife, Eurydice, 
by a visit to the infernal regions, his power of silepciog Cer- 


benis, suspending the torments of Tartarus, and drawing iron 
tears down the cheeks of Ruto, are well known to the reader^ 
Such was the sweetness of his music, that the infernal god 
consented to restore him Eurydice, upon condition that he 
should not look back upon her until he hieid quitted his regions ; 
but unable to perform on his part the contract^ or forgetful of 
the injunction, he forfeited the prize which his lyre had won. 
Whatever explanation may be offered of this fable, we may 
place some credit upon the descriptions that have been given 
of his extraordinary musical powers; but his genius was the 
cause of his death — the Thracian women, jealous of his influ- 
ence over their husbands, waylaid and murdered him. 

The Trojan war was commenced, according to Archbishop 
Usher^ eleven hundred and eighty-five years, and according 
to Sir Isaac Newton, nine hundred and four years before 
Christ. Homer is the poet and historian of this remarkable 
epoch, and has left us an account of some of the most cele- 
brated musicians and poets, a short description of whom may 
be interesting to the reader. Teiresias was a blind bard, and 
the first person who united music, poetry, and prophecy 
with the priestly office. It was he whom Ulysses consjulted 
in the shades, by the command of Circe. Thamyris, who is 
distinguished by Homer as one who sung to his lyre, was born 
'm Thrace and was the pupil of Linus. Plutarch informs 
us that his voice exceeded in sweetness all the poets of his 
age ; but having dared to challenge the Muses, he was 
punished for his presumption with a loss of voice, an inability^ 
to touch his lyre, and blindness. In the eighth book of 
the Odyssey, Homer gives us a very full account of Demo- 
docus, who was received at the palace of Aloinoua mtk tW 


highest honours. It is supposed that the poet here refers td 
himself> and although he has been most lavish in his own 
praise, his fame has fax exceeded that which the poet himself 
gave to his own representatiye. The following passage from 
the Odyssey will show how closely the account of Demodocus 
is applicable to Homer : — 

** The herald now arrives, and guides along 
The sacred master of celestial song ; 
Dear to the Muse ! who gave his days to flow 
With mighty blessings mixed with mighty woe ; 
With clouds of darkness quenched his visual ray, 
But gave him skill to raise the lofty lay. 
High on a radiant throne, sublime in state, 
Encircled by high multitudes he sate : 
With silver shone the throne : his lyre, well strung, 
To rapturous sounds at haad Protonoue hung.'* 

Phemius is the only other poet mentioned by Homer, 
and he is supposed to have been his particular friend, or 
instructor, and to this alone he is indebted for the preserva- 
tion of his name to the present age. 

^ To Phemius was consigned the chorded lyre, 
Whose hand reluctant touched the warbling wire : 
Phemius, whose voice divine could sweetest sing 
High strains responsive to the vocal string.*' 

It will be here proper to take a more general view of the 
state of musical science in Greece during the time of Homer, 
before we proceed to another period. From the works of the 
great poet we may fairly conclude that all the arts were in 
high estimation, but none were held in such reverence as 
poetry and music, which were always united. The bard 
appears to have constantly accompanied his songs with the 


lyre, and mere instrumental music was altogether unknown. 
At all public feasts music was invariably introduced, and the 
gods themselves are frequently described as attentive listeners 
to the inspirations of the poet In public worship also music 
was employed^ and we know not a single religious rite that 
could be performed without its assistance. The greatest 
heroes of antiquity were not insensible to its charms, and 
frequently stirred their valorous enthusiasm by chaunting to 
the lyre the immortal deeds of heroes and of kings. Both 
Achilles and Paris were musicians ; but while the one checked 
his unbounded rage and thirst for glory with the soothing 
tones of the harp, the other employed the same instrument 
for the indulgence of hb effeminate habits. 

Of the poets and musicians who lived subsequent to Homer 
and previous to the establishment of the Grecian games, a 
very brief notice will be sufficient ; nor indeed is it possible 
to obtain much information concerning them, as ail their works 
have been destroyed, excepting a few fragments. From the 
time of Homer to Sappho, from Sappho to Anacreon, and 
from Anacreon to Pindar, we have nothmg to direct us, except 
a few casual notices. 

There is some doubt as to the time in which Olympus 
lived ; most persons imagine that it was before Homer ; but, 
without pretending to settle this question, we will here 
attempt to give a short notice of him. He was a Phrygian 
by birth, and is celebrated by Plato, AristoUe and Plutarch, 
for his poetical as well as musical talent It is said that 
Alexander, when he heard his Curule song performed by 
Antigenides, was so excited with it that he seized his arms 
and was ready for combat* Thaletas lived about three bun- 


dred years fiftier the Trojan war, and was so celebrated for hi^ 
philosophical aQd political genius as well as his knowledge 
of music, that Lycurgus, the Spartan legislator, travelled into 
Crete for the purpose of obtaining his assistance in com- 
pleting and establishing that fionn of government which had 
in after ages so. singular an effect 4ipon the character of bit 
countrymen. Herodotus says that Archilochus was bom at 
Paros, one of the Cydades, and £xes the period of his 
celebrity at about the year seven hundred and twenty* four 
before Christ; but there is abundant evidence to prove that 
he lived at a much later period. When a young man he 
attached himself to the army, but in his first engagement lost 
his buckler and fled from the field, from which cause he was 
brought into great disgrace, and lt>st the lady of his affec- 
tions. His life after this period was characterised by « 
bitter resentment, so much so that his satires were proverbial 
throughout Greece. He was highly esteemed by his country** 
men, by whom he was ranked with Homer and has the honour 
of inventing lyric poetry. . Archilochus was one of the first 
victors at the Fythic games, and a hymn that he wrote in 
praise of Hercules was so much admired, that he not only 
received the crown, but it was afterwards always sung at the 
Olympic games in honour of those victors who had not a poet 
to celebrate their success. 

Tyrtaeus was a celebrated Athenian general, said to have 
been the inventor of a military trumpet, and considered one 
of the first performers in his day. During the second Mesi- 
nian war, about 684 years B.C., the Lacedsemonmns were 
commanded by the oracle to obtain the assistance of an 
Athenian general. Tyrteeus was sent, and to the energy and 


heroie-cbsracter of his music,, bistoirians have attributed in a 
great degree tbe suocess of the party witb whom be was con- 
nected ; and so bighlywas bis music esteemed by tbis singular 
people, tbat wben tbe Spartans were in arms, they were stun* 
moned to tbe king's tent, that they might be encouraged to 
•brave all dangers by the exciting influence of bis songs. 

Terpander must have lived about tbe time of Tyrtaeus, but 
the precbe period of bis birth is not known. Plutarch speaks 
of him as a composer of great power, and informs us that 
be gsined four successive prizes at tbe Pythian games. It 
was he who added three strings to the lyre, and thus excited 
ibe anger of the Spartan senate': be has also the honour of 
introducing a system of musical notation. 

Having ibus far traced the history of Grecian • music 
among dark or fabulous ages, we come now to tbe period of 
authentic history, which may be supposed to commence with 
the establishment of tbe games. For what purpose these 
periodical festivals were originally intended, we do not pre- 
tend to determine ; it is sufficient for our present purpose, 
tbat in tbe year 776 before Christ, the Olympic Games began 
to be regularly celebrated every fourth year, which afterwards 
became a fixed Grecian epoch. At these games there were 
not only horse races, gymnastic exercises, manly feats and 
trials of physical strength, but also poetical and musical con- 
tests ; which brought together nearly all the philosophers 
and men of highest renown throughout the country. The 
musical and poetical exhibitions were never prominent in the 
Olympian games, but that they were not unfrequent, there 
is abundant evidence. Pytbocritus, of Sicyon, played four 
times, on his flute during one festival ; and so greatly was bis 


music admired, that a pillar and statue was erected — ** To 
the memory of Pythocritus, sumamed Callinicus, the flute- 
player." In the ninety-first Olympiad, Euripides and 
Xenocles entered into competition for the prize of dramatic 
poetry, the recitation of which was always accompanied by- 
music. In the ninety-seventh Olympiad, a prize was estab- 
lished for the best performance on the trumpet. 
» The Nemsean games^ so called from Nemsa, a Tillage ia 
Arcadia, or> as others suppose, established in honour of 
Hercules, after he had slain the Nemsean iion^ were of great 
antiquity. The exercises here were very similar to those at 
the Olympic games, as will appear from Pindar's odes. 
Musical performances, however, were evidently admitted ; for 
it is told by Plutarch, in his life of Philopcemen, that he entered 
the theatre at the Nemsean games, after the victory of Man- 
tinea, while Pylades was singing to the lyre a song composed 
by Timotheus, the application of which to the celebrated 
general was so striking, that the music was drowned in the 
acclamations of the people. It may be here mentioned, that 
this Timotheus was the musician who was expelled from 
Sparta, on account of his adding several additional strings to' 
the lyre. 

The Isthmian games were established .in honour of Nep- 
tune by Theseus, and received their name from the circum- 
stance of being celebrated on the Isthmus of Corinth. The 
contest for the musical and poetical prizes, formed a principal 
part of the exhibition, although a garland of pine leaves was 
the only reward received by the victor. 

An interesting account is related by Livy of the celebration 
of the Isthmian games, immediately after the defeat of Philip 


of Macedon by the Romans. A great concourse of people had 
been assembled together from all parts of Greece to witness 
the contests ; but all, at the same time, anxious and fearful 
for the liberties of their provinces. The Romans having 
taken their seats, the herald advanced into the centre of the 
area, with his trumpet as usual, and when silence was com- 
manded, proclaimed, not the opening of the games, but the 
following decree : ** The Roman senate and people, and 
Titus Quintius ^Flaminius their general, having vanquished 
Philip and his Macedonians, declare Corinth, and all the 
other states which have been subject to Philip independent, 
free, and amenable only to their own laws/' Such was the 
joy that this proclamation diffused throughout the audience, 
that they recalled the herald to hear again the joyful tidings 
and to see the messenger of their liberty. 

But of all the ancient games, none are so intimately con- 
nected as the Pythian with the history of music. They were 
established to commemorate the victory of Apollo over the 
serpent Python. At first they were intended for poetical and 
musical contests only, and the prize was awarded to him who 
wrote and sung the best song in honour of Apollo. Chryso- 
themis of Crete, who purified Apollo after the conquest, was 
the first who obtained a prize at these games* Homer^con- 
sulted the Delphic oracle upon the propriety of his entering 
into competition^ but was not considered qualified, on account 
of his blindness and inability to sing and accompany himself 
upon the lyre. Hesiod also was incompetent, because he was 
not master of the same instrument. 

About five hundred and ninety-one years before Christ, 
some alteration was made in the arrangement of these ^m^^v 


one prize being given to him who sang best to a flute accoaK* 
paniment, and another to him who, without singing, played 
with the greatest precision and taste. This is the first instance 
that we meet with, in the history of Greek music, of the sepa- 
ration of that science and the art of poetry. In the eighth 
Pythiad, a prize, that is, a crown of laurel, was given to the 
best performer on the lyre. Strabo, speaking of the Pythian 
games, mentions a peculiar kind of hymn, called the Pythian 
Nome, invented by Sacadas, who performed it at Delphi. 
This poet was highly thought of by Pindar, but his works 
are lost. The piece to which we allude consisted of five 
parts ; the first was a description of the preparation for combat, 
the second was the commencement of the contest, the third 
was the heat of the battle, the fourth the song of victory (com- 
posed of iambics and dactyls), or the taunts of Apollo over 
his enemy, and the fifth the hisses of the dying monster. 

We must now proceed to speak, very briefly, of some of 
the most remarkable poets and musicians who flourished at 
the time of the regular celebration of the Pythian games. 

Alcseus, who was born at Mitylene in the forty-fourth 
Olympiad, or six hundred and four years before Christ, 
having, like Archilocus, lost his shield in the field of battle, 
espoused the Muses, and was'much celebrated in his day, not 
Only for the plaintive, but also for the bold and enei^etic 
strain of his poetry. He was considered as one of the greatest 
lyric poets of antiquity, and is described by Quinctilian as a 
chaste, concise, eloquent, and sententious writer. He was the 
contemporary of Sappho, with whom he was deeply in love. 

It will be sufiicient to mention the names ofMimnermus, 
Stesichorus, and Simpnides. The latter was celebrated for 


the purity and sweetness of his style, and for the power which 
he exercised over the passions. Both Plato and Cicero speak 
of him in the highest terms, although in his old age he be- 
came so avaricious of money, as to warrant the supposition 
that he was not unwilling to sell his talent at a price ; for 
when asked by the queen of Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse, 
whether it was more desirable to be learned or rich, he 
replied, that the latter was much preferable, for he frequently 
found the learned waiting at the doors of the rich, but the 
rich men were never at the doors of the learned* 

Pindar, the pupil of Simonides, was born at Thebes, in 
Boeotia, about five hundred and twenty years before Christ. 
His father was a flute-player, and after having instructed him 
in the elements of music, placed him under the tuition of 
Myrtis, where he met Corinna, to whom it is said he was more 
indebted than to her under whose instruction he was especially 
placed. This celebrated poet always distinguished himself 
in bis contests, and frequently excelled Myrtis ; but Corinna 
at five successive contests obtained the prize against him. 
It is unfortunate that we have not a single fragment of this 
lady's poetry by which to judge of her power of composition ; 
but there can be no doubt^ that Pindar was much indebted to 
her in restraining his luxuriant fancy. Having once shown to 
Corinna the exordium of his first essay, she replied, you 
should sow with the hand, and not empty the whole sack at 
once. So celebrated, however, did this poet become, that 
every hero was anxious to have his exploits recorded in his 
verse, and all Greece resounded with his fume. The highest 
honours were paid him during his life and after his death ; 
and Mhen we consider the loftiness of thought, and the 



purity of morality which so singularly distinguish all hu 
poems, we feel the force of that now trite maxim in his fiist 
Pythian Ode, it is better to be envied than pitied Plutarch 
informs us, that at his funeral was sung the short and simple 
dirge, " This man was pleasing to strangers and dear to his 
countrymen." When the Spartans ravaged Bceotia and 
burned Thebes, the following inscription was placed upon 
the door of the house in which he -had resided, ** Forbear to 
bum this house, it was the dwelling of Pindar ;" and the 
same command was given at ai\other time by Alexander the 

We may now close our very brief history of Greek music 
by an account of the Panathensan games, and of the most 
celebrated performers. There were two exhibitions at Athens 
under this name, both of them dedicated to Minerva, the 
patroness of that city, and said to have been established by 
Orpheus. The greater Panathensea was held every five years» 
and the lesser every three. The latter has been attributed 
to Pericles ; but Plutarch, who examined the registers, found 
an account of exhibitions held long before his time. 

The flute was always a favourite instrument at Athens, 
perhaps because it was invented by Minerva ; and contests 
on'this instrument were always introduced at the PanatheaeBan 
games. The most celebrated poets and singers also fre- 
quented Athens at, these times, to compete ibr the honours 
awarded those who excelled in their particular arts. Some 
of those who were successful at these games, and were held 
in high estimation by the people, may now be mentioned. 

Damouy^an Athenian, the disciple of Agathocles, instructed 
both Pericles and Socrates in the sdence of music Plutarch 


8ay8» he was a profound politician as well as an [excellent 
musician, and that he concealed his knowledge of the prin- 
ciples of government by an apparently entire devotion to 
music By Socrates he is mentioned as his personal friend ; 
and Pericles, who was particularly anxious to encourage 
the arts, no doubt frequently availed himself of Damons 
assistance. There are few characters in the Grecian history 
who have so strong a claim for pre-eminent distinction as 
a patron of the arts, and especially of music,* as Pericles. 
Plutarch, who has written his life, gives him the honour of 
attempting to introduce aud recommend the arts in all the 
entertainments he proposed for the pleasure of the people. 
It was he who built the Odeum, a room in which the poets 
and musicians prepared themselves for exhibition in the 
theatre. He also invited Antigenides, of Thebes, the greatest 
flute-player of his day, to Athens ; and intrusted to his care 
the tuition of Alcibiades, his cousin. Of this celebrated per- 
former, and Dorion, his contemporary and rival, we have 
already spoken in another part of this work; and also of 
Ismenias and Lamia. 

The flute-players who were engaged in the public religious 
services, were chosen at the same time as the state officers, 
and the appointment was held in as high estimation as that 
of the priests themselves. This will in a great measure 
account for the frequent mention of celebrated flute-players 
and musicians in the writings of the Greek historians. For 
many years, instrumental music was always employed to 
accompany the voice ; and while thus associated with poetry* 
the power and genius of the composer must have been re- 
stricted. Clonas is said to have been the first wKo ccitK^^wA. 


nomes or sura for the flute. The instrumeDts with which the 
simple airs adapted to the expression of poetry were per* 
formed, were not suited to the execution of those more com* 
plicated movements by which the player may have desired 
to exhibit his skill. This led to the improvement of the 
instruments ; but in proportion as the performance was sepa- 
rated from poetry, the art itself declined, a resnlt aided in a 
great measure by the conduct of those who professed it. 


Little can be said concerning the introduction of musical 
science amon^r the Romans, a people who were especially 
indebted to the Greeks for the elements of all their knowledge 
in the arts and sciences. It is however well known, that 
long before their connexion with Greece, they were in com- 
munication with Etruria, and both Strabo and Livy consider 
the early Roman music to be derived from the Etruscans. 
The first allusion to music in the annals of Rome, we find 
in the account that is given us of the conquest obtained by 
Romulus over the Csenicenses, when the army, divided into 
three sections, sang to the honour of the gods, and celebrated 
the valour of their commander in extemporary verses. The 
Roman praetors annually celebrated games in honour of 
Cybele, at which time the procession was accompanied by 
players on the cymbals and flute. 

The importance attributed to martial music in the 
earliest ages of the Roman empire, is exhibited in the in* 
stitution by Numa, of the Salii, who sang songs to the 
god of war. And in the law of the twelve tables, we find 
that it was considered equally necessary in funereal rites ; for 


the master of the ceremonies was instructed to provide ten 
flute-players to accompany the songs which were sung in 
honour of the deceased. There is also evidence in the 
Roman writers of the introduction of music in the marriage 
ceremony. All that we know of the Etruscan musvc is de- 
rived from very scanty notices, and from the representation 
of their instruments on fragments of antiquity ; from these 
we may gather, that they were little inferior to the Greeks 
in their knowledge or practice of the art, and that the 
Romans in all probability did not long remain inexpert per* 
formers upon the instruments they introduced. 

That music was connected with religious rites is evident 
from a tale that is told by Livy of the Roman musicians, 
who imagining themselves to be affronted at the capital, with* 
drew in a body to the city of Tibur. Many attempts were 
made to induce them to return, but they so obstinately refused, 
that a stratagem was laid to effect the object On a high 
festival day, the Tiburtines persuaded them to assist in the 
ceremony, and supplied them with wine until they became 
so intoxicated as to be insensible of their situation. They 
were then placed on cars and carried back to Rome, where 
they passed the night in the open air, and in a public part of 
the city. In the morning they were surrounded by the 
citizens, who with much entreaty, and after allowing them 
the privilege of parading the city three days in every year, 
and indulging in every excess that they pleased, persuaded 
them to resume their duties in the religious services. 

In Livy we have an interesting sketch of the {loman 
drama, of which we may give a short account. In the year 
^Qi 9.C., the plague raged in Rome, and carried off so many 


of the inhabitants, that a public feasts called the Lectister- 
nium, to assuage the anger of the gods, was held ; but the 
disease having little abated, they adopted another and rery 
singular method of appeasing the incensed deities. The 
Ludi Scenici, dramatical exhibitions, were established. At 
first these amusements were conducted by actors from £tru-> 
ria; but the Roman youth, having seen these performers, 
greatly improved upon their method of acting, introducing 
rude verses with the dancing and music ; and at length, the 
unpremeditated and coarse jests which were first employed, 
gave way to the recitation of written satirical dialogues 
recited with proper gesticulations. Some years after, Livius 
Andronicus abandoned the satire, and wrote plays with a 
regular plot, at which time acting became an art and pro"*- 
fession. ** These dramas," says Livy, ** soon after obtained 
the name of Exodia, and were usually interwoven with the 
Atellane Comedies, compositions originally borrowed from 
the Osci, and always performed by the Roman youth, who 
did not allow them to be disgraced by professed actors. Jt 
was a rule that those who performed in such pieces were not 
disgraced in their tribes, but were as able to serve in the 
army as though they had not appeared on the stage." 

During the time of the Caesars, music was very highly 
esteemed at Rome, although it was less encouraged by 
Augustus than by his predecessor ; but at his burial^ the 
body was received without the gates of the city by the senate 
and citizens, who conducted it to the sepulchre, [singing fune- 
real verses. Tiberius banished the comedians and musicians ; 
but Caligula recalled them. The infamous Nero also en* 
couraged music ; but more, it may be imagined, for tbcf 


gratification of his own personal vanity than from any sin- 
cere love of the humanising influence of the art. When 
he visited Naples, he entered the city dressed as Apollo, 
attended by all the celebrated musicians of the time and his 
officers of state, in a thousand chariots. At the theatre of 
that place he made his first appearance as a singer, and was, 
of course, received with great applause. Five thousand 
musicians he took into his own service and dressed in a par- 
ticular uniform. At Rome also he was frequently seen on 
the stage, and even received money for his performances. 
At the Olympic games he contended for the musical prizes, 
which he obtained by bribing the competitors and judges. 
It is said he once entered Naples, and afterwards Rome, on 
his return from the Olympic games, with eight hundred prizes ; 
and so jealous was he of those whom he supposed to excel 
him, that Britannicus was poisoned because he had a more 
agreeable voice. The character of Nero is marked by strange 
inconsistencies ; but the governing motive of all his actions, 
was a pride resulting from an inordinate love of fame, and 
an extraordinary amount of self-esteem. Although passion- 
ately determined on the satisfaction of his caprice, and ready 
for the commission of the most revolting crimes to efl^ect his 
object, he could submit to much self-denial in order to gain 
the forced shout of the populace in a crowded theatre. It 
is recorded of him, that he abstained from all fruit and food 
that could affect his voice, and slept on his back with a plate 
of lead on his stomach ; and, according to Suetonius, to praise 
his voice, which was weak and indistinct, was the sure way 
of securing his favour. 

From the time of Nero till the fall of .the Roman empire, 


music was in high estimation, especially in the reign of 
Hadrian, a prince who was educated at Athens, and was a 
great patron of all the arts. Commodus encouraged dramatic 
exhibitions, and like Nero, his fellow in inhuman vice, 
delighted to appear on the stage, but more frequently as a 
dancer and gladiator than as a singer. After the fall of the 
empire, all the arts in which the Romans had excelled as 
copyists, if not as inventors and designers, were for a time 
buried in the ruins of the mighty nation that cherished them ; 
but destined to rise again on the same soil with more than a 
pristine splendour. 


Whatever interest we may feel in the history of music amongf 
nations whose habits and opinions we are accustomed to con- 
sider with veneration, it is much more important to trace the 
history of the science in the various ages of the Christian era, 
with all of which we seem to be more intimately connected. 
The simple and sacred ordinances of the Christian religion 
are not opposed to the introduction of music in worship, a 
fact sufficiently proved by the habits and opinions of the early 
Christians. That the music employed in the primirive 
churches was of the simplest kind there can be no doubt, 
but that it was customary to sing, may be proved from a 
variety of passages in the works of those who wrote in the 
first few centuries. 

Origen says : *' We (the Christians) sing hymns to none 
but to the Supreme Being and to his only Son, in the same 
manner as they (the Pagans) sing to the sun, moon, stars, and 
all the host of heaven." 


In the wrttings of Clemens Alexandrinus there is the fol- 
lowing curious passage : " This is the chosen mountain of 
the Lord, unlike Citheeron, which has furnished subjects to 
tragedy ; it is dedicated to truth : a mountain of greater 
purity, overspread with chaste shades. It is inhabited by 
the daughters of God, the fair lambs who celebrate together 
the venerable orgies^ collecting the chosen choir. The 
singers are holy men, their song is the hymn of the Almighty 
King ; virgins chaunt, angels glorify, prophets discourse, while 
music sweetly sounding is heard." 

Philo, also speaking of the Thearpeutae, says : ** Afler 
supper their sacred songs began ; when all were arisen, they 
selected two choirs, one of men and one of women, in order 
to celebrate some festival, and from each of these a person 
of majestic form, and well skilled in music, was chosen to 
lead the band. They then chanted hymns in honour of 
God, composed in different measures and modulations, now 
singing together, and now alternately answering each other." 

In the time of Constantino, when the Christian religion* 
was first established by law, which was in the year 312 a.d., 
great care appears to have been taken to establish a conve- 
nient form of worship and suitable singing. Eusebius, the 
historian of the period, says : ** There was one common con* 
sent in chanting forth the praises of God ; the performance 
of the service was exact, the rites of the church decent and 
majestic ; and there was a place appointed for those who sung 
psalms ; youths and virgins, old men and young." 

In the year 374, the chanting in divine service was so 
badly performed, and the music was so inferior, that St. 
Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, undertook the task of recom« 


posing the chants, and reducing this important part of the 
service into an order and regularity more worthy of the 
sacred object. St* Augustin spealts of this circundstance, 
and of the pleasure he felt ^hen he first heard the service 
performed in the cathedral of Milan : ** The voices flowed 
in at my ears, truth was distilled in my heart, and the affection 
of piety overflowed in sweet tears of joy." In another place 
he says : '< The church of Milan had not long before began 
to practise this way of mutual consolation and exhortation, 
with a joint harmony of voices and hearts." 

Gregory, who is distinguished among his contemporaries 
as a man of extraordinary mental endowments, must here he 
mentioned as having greatly improved ecclesiastical music 
by the introduction of his chants. He was born at Rome 
in the year 550, and after having held the important office of 
praefect under the emperor Justin the Younger, retired to a 
monastery that he had founded in his house. In the year 
582, Pope Pelagius the Second appointed him as one of his 
deacons, and sent him as nuncio to Constantinople. After 
being for some time engaged in public business under the 
immediate direction of the pope, he obtained permission to 
retire agsdn to his own monastery, from which he was recalled 
by a sense of duty, when a violent contagious disease was 
raging at Rome. Pelagius himself fell a victim to the dis- 
order, and Gregory was unanimously elected to the papal 
chair. Feeling little anxious for the dignity imposed on 
him, he secreted himself in a cave, where he was found and 
induced to return to Rome, to fill the high office to which 
he had been chosen. What credit can be given to this tale 
we do not pretend to determine, but in the year 590 he was 


consecrated ; assuming the modest title " Servus servorum 
Dei '* (The [minister] of the servants of God). To this 
prelate we are indebted for the chants that are called by his 
name, still used in the churches of Italy. It was Gregory, 
also, who first introduced Christianity into Britain. He is 
said to have been a man of weak constitution, but possessing 
a strong and discriminating mind, piety and great learning, 
he filled the papal chair with an equanimity rarely equalled. 



For the introduction of Christianity into Great Britain, 
in the year 596, we are indebted to Pope Gregory, com- 
monly called Gregory the Great. The incident which led 
him to establish a mission in this country is related by Bede. 
Some merchants having arrived at Rome, brought their goods 
to the market-place to be sold, and Gregory, with many 
others, attended as purchasers. Some boys also were offered 
for sale as slaves, and Gregory, having observed them closely, 
inquired of the dealers from what country they had brought 
them, and was told, from the island of Britain. He again 
inquired whether the inhabitants were Christians, but being 
informed they were Pagans, he exclaimed '^Alas! what a 
pity that the author of darkness should be in possession of 
men of such fair countenances, and that, being remarkable for 
such graceful aspects, their minds should be void of inward 
grace." Not being at this time raised to the pontifical chair, 
he entreated Pelagius to send some ministers to the English 
nation, that they mighfbe converted to Christ. 

When the monk Austin arrived in England for the purpose 


of converting our forefathers to the Christian faith, he was 
attended by singers, who Mrere, perhaps, found useful in gain- 
ing him the attention of the people. About fifly years after, 
a singer of great celebrity was sent from Rome to correct 
such abuses as he might find in the manner of performing the 
service. The choral service was first introduced in the cathe- 
dral church of Canterbury, and soon extended to the other 
churches in Kent, to which county it was for some time con- 
fined. This fact is alluded to by HoUinshed, in his Chroni- 
cles : '* Whereas beforetime there was in a manner no singing 
in the Englishe churches, except it were in Kent'; now they 
began in every church to use singing of divine service, after 
the ry te of the church of Rome. The archbishop Theodore, 
finding the church of Rochester void by the death of the last 
bishop, named Damian, ordeyned one Putta, a simple man in 
worldly matters, but well instructed in ecclesiastical discipline, 
and mainly well scene in song and musicke to be used in the 
church, after the manner he had learned of Pope Gregory's 
disciples.'' In the year 677, Ethelred, king of Mercia, invaded 
Kent, destroyed the city of Rochester, defaced the cathedral, 
and drove Putta away. 

St. Augustin, or Austin, was the first archbishop of Can- 
terbury ; and from history it appears that Gregory constantly 
impressed upon him the necessity of attending to the musical 
part of the service. It may, however, be doubted whether 
the art made much progress in this country until the arrival 
of John, precentor of St. Peter^s, who was sent in the year 
680, to teach the monks of Weremouth the method of singing 
the ecclesiastical service according to the practice at Rome. 
This person was held in great estimation for his skill, and 


opened several musical schools in different parts of Northuip- 

In the time of Pope Adrian and Charlemagne, there was 
a curious quarrel between the French and Italian musicians^ 
as to their respective merits for taste and knowledge. It 
appears that Charles having visited Rome to celebrate Easter, 
the French singers pretended to have more agreeable voices, 
and to sing with ^better taste than the Italians ; while the 
Italians, on the other hand, boasted that they were taught by 
St Gregory himself, and that the French had altered and dis- 
figured the true chant, ** and, comparing the abilities of their 
great master with the ignorance and rusticity of their rivals, 
treated them as fools and barbarians.' The dispute was 
referred to King Charles, who, so far from deciding on behalf 
of the French, requested Pope Adrian to appoint singing, 
masters to correct the Galilean chant Theodore and Bene- 
dict were chosen ; one .being sent to Metz, and the other 
to Soissons : the Pope also granted to the king St. Gregory's 
own copy of his choral books. Diaconus, in his life of St. 
Gregory, informs us that the French and Germans were quite 
unable to sing the Gregorian chant. ** Their figures were 
gigantic, and when they sung, it was rather thunder than 
musical tones. Their rude throats, instead of the inflexions 
of pleasing melody, formed such rough sounds as resembled 
the noise of a cart jolting down a pair of stairs." 

To return, however, to the history of music amon^ our 
Saxon forefathers, it may be well to remark that the progress 
ef ecclesiastical music must have been greatly aided by the 
establishment of a school at Canterbury. There are many 
incidents in the history of Alfred which prove that he excelled 


as much in music as in general knowledge. The story of his 
entering the Danish camp in the disguise of a harper, and 
returning without being detected, is a sufficient evidence that 
he was well practised in the art of music, and the fact is 
stated by several of his contemporaries. In the year 886, 
Alfred established the chair of , music in the university of 

St. Dunstan, a turbulent prelate, who was accused of the 
practice of magic, and died in the year 988, was well ac- 
quainted with all the arts, and is especially spoken of for his 
musical talents. It was he who gave an organ to the abbey 
of Abingdon, in the reign of King Edgar, and, according to 
some authors, introduced the same instrument into many 
other English churches and convents. 


The history of music, from the commencement of the twelfth 
till nearly the middle of the fourteenth century, is included in 
that of the Troubadours, a class of wandering musicians who 
travelled through all the southern countries of Europe, com- 
posing and singing their songs in the palaces of kings, and 
castles of the nobles. The songs sung by the Troubadours, 
were composed in the Proyen9al language, supposed by 
Voltaire to have been formed in the ninth century, and to be 
a compound of Latin and Teutonic. It was spoken in its 
greatest purity in Dauphine and Provence. In the eleventh 
century the rhyming Troubadours obtained the patronage of 
the Count de Poitou and many other powerful nobles. Re- 
ceived with great consideration and respect, they travelled 
from one castle to another, and sang their songs in celebration 


of the heroic deeds of warriors, and the beauty of their ladies, 
encouraging that spirit of chivalry which had already made 
its appearance in Europe. The profession of the minstrel 
being again established, the numbers rapidly increased, and 
spirit of emulation was excited. The influence of the Trou- 
badours upon the manners of the people at this period, it is 
hardly possible to estimate; but that it Ibnt its aid to the 
wild, imaginative, and superstitious opinions of the period, 
there can be no doubt. We have an interesting instance of 
the esteem in which music was held at the period of which 
we are spealdng, in the history of Richard Cceur-de-Lion, 
and especially in the account of his deliverance from prison 
in the Tour Tenebreuse, 

Richard having quarrelled with the Duke of Austria, when 
in Palestine, doubted the safety of passing through his do- 
minions on his return home, and therefore assumed a disguise 
by which he hoped to pass unobserved. The duke, however, 
being informed of his arrival in his dominions, seized his 
person and confined him in a castle called the Black Tower. 
For a long time his imprisonment was unknown ; nor would 
it, perhaps, have been discovered but for one Blondel, a min- 
strel who had been retsdned in his service, and was greatly 
attached to his master. This minstrel suspecting that he 
might be imprisoned by some rival monarch, travelled from 
place to place, apparently in the exercise of his profession, 
and coming to a city near the castle where Richard was con- 
fined, made such inquiries as made him suspect the fact. 
Having gained admission to the castle, but being at the same 
time unable to obtsun a sight of the prisoner, he one day 
placed himself against a window and began to sing a French 



song which thej had formerly composed together. The 
king was at once certain that his minstrel had discovered his 
prison, and when the song was half sang finished it himself. 
Blondel immediately returned to England and informed the 
barons of his adventure. 

In Walpole*s ** Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors," 
we find a song written by Richard during his imprisonment $ 
and Dr. Burney, in his '* History of Music/' has given a 
translation from a French version. The two concluding 
verses we may be permitted to quote : — 

** Ye dear companions of my happy days, 
Oh ! Chail and Pensavil aloud declare 
Throughout the earth, in everlasting lays, 
My foes against me wage inglorious war. 
O ! tell them too that ne*er among my crimes 
Did breach of &ith, deceit, or fraud appear; 
That infamy will brand to latest times 
The insults I receive while captive here. 

Know, all ye men of Anjou and Touraine, 

And every bachlor knight, robust and brave. 

That duty now and love alike are vain 

From bonds your sovereign and your friend to save. 

Remote from consolation here I lie, 

The wretched captive of a powerful foe. 

Who all your zeal and ardour can defy. 

Nor leaves you aught but pity to bestow." 

The licentiousness of the Troubadours, and the vices by 
which the order was characterised, led to their suppression, 
in the fifteenth century. It has more than once happened 
that favoured classes have, by their encroachments on the 
good feelings of the people and by their excesses, fallen into 
disgrace and been the authors of their own ruin. But not* 


withstanding the imperfect state of tnusic and poetry among 
the Troubadours, and the follies into which they fell, the lite- 
rature of Europe is greatly indebted to them for exciting that 
love of poesy which has never since been entirely banished 
from the public mind. 

The expulsion of the Troubadours from France, by Philip 
Augustus, has been much blamed by many writers, not be- 
cause there can be any doubt of their profligate habits, but 
because they exercised a much more despotic power over the 
rising literature of the country than he did over their privi- 
leges. Nor was the influence of the Troubadours altogether 
prejudicial to the habits of the French. ** They banished,'' 
says a French writer, ** scholastic quarrels and ill-breeding, 
polished the manners, established rules of politeness, enlivened 
conversation, and purified gallantry .... That urbanity 
which distinguishes us from other people, was the fruit of 
their songs : and if it is not from them we derive our virtues, 
they at least taught us how to render them amiable." 

The minstrels who were banished by Philip Augustus were 
recalled by his successor, and granted many privileges. 
Their immoralities, however, and pandering to the vices of 
the times, again called down the displeasure of the govern- 
ment, for in the year 1395 they were strictly prohibited to 
speak or sing any indecent song, under a penalty of two 
months' imprisonment, during which period they were to live 
on bread and water. 

The French lays of this period were amorous songs com- 
posed in the native language. The morality of the French 
if their, least blameable habits can receive such a title, wa 
exceedingly lax ; nor is it possible to entertain a very high 



estimate of the character of a people who could invoke the 
Deity to grant success to their profligate intentions. But 
although the legitimate um of music was thus thwarted, there 
was much in the social music of the period deserving the 
highest commendation. 

Military songs also were sung by the army previous to an 
engagement. Charlemagne is said to have been very favour- 
able to this method of exciting the valour of the troops. The 
celebrated song in praise of Roland, a translation of which 
has been given by Dr» Burney, is a specimen of this kind of 


The high esteem in which music was held by the ancient 
Britons, and by the Saxons, has been already alluded to, and 
we must now attempt to obtain some information concerning 
its progress among the Normans. The character of the music 
it is very difficult to determine, or the degree of taste exer- 
cised by the performer ; but there is reason to believe that 
the monarch and the nobles retsuned a minstrel or bard ia 
their households, and treated him with great honour. Henry 
the Third gave a pipe of wine and forty shillings to his harpeF, 
and another pipe of wine to Beatrice, his harper*s wife. That 
the minstrel was about the person of his master, appears from 
several circumstances, and may be supposed from the tale 
that is told of prince Edward, afterwards Edward the First, 
when in the Holy Land. At Ptolemais, in 1271, he was 
attacked in his own chamber by an assassin with a poisoned 
knife, and was delivered by his minstrel. 

In the works of Sir Walter Scott, much information con* 


cerning the poetry and minstrels of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries has been collected. Among the most celebrated of 
these personages must be mentioned Thomas of Erceldoun, 
otherwise known as The Rhymer, who united the power of 
prophecy with the art of versification. ** I am inclined," says 
Sir Walter, ** to place his death a little further back than Mr. 
Pinkerton, who supposes he was alive in 1300, which is hardly, 
I think, consistent with the charter by which his son in 1299, 
for himself and his heirs, conveys to the convent of the 
Trinity of Sotre, the tenement which he possessed by inheri- 
tance in Erceldoun, with all claims which he or his predeces- 
sors could pretend thereto. From this we may infer that the 
rhymer was now dead, since we find his son disposing of the 
family property. Still, however, the argument of the learned 
historian will remain unimpeached as to the time of the 
poet's birth ; for if, as we learn from Barbour, his Prophe- 
cies were held in reputation as early as 1306, when Bruce 
slew the Red Cummin, the sanctity and the^ uncertainty of 
antiquity must have already Involved his character and 

Sir Walter has also given us an old poem of Thomas the 
Rhymer's intrigue with the Queen of Faery, the commence^ 
ment of which we will extract for the amusement of the 
reader, referring him to the collection of Sir Walter's works 
for the entire poem. 

** la a lande as I waslent, 
In the gryking of the day. 
Ay alone as I went, 
In Huntle bankjs me for to plaj ; 
I say the throstyl, and the jay. 
Ye mawesy movydo of her sopg. 


Ye irodwmle tasge notes gaj. 
That al tbe irod about nnge. 
In that ImigTi^ as I lajr 
Undir nethe a den tic, 
I Has war of a kd j gaj. 
Come rjdjiig on jr a fair le ; 
Zogh I suld sHt to domjadajr, 
With niT toi^ to wiabhe and wrj, 
Certenl J all h jr aiaj, 
D beth neajr d isujujd fior me." 

The foUowing luocbmatioii, lisoed bj Edward the Second, 
in the year 1315, will better illustrate the halMts of the min- 
strels, and perhaps the state of music than anj aeconnt we 

could glTC. 

** Edward bj the grace of God, &c. to sheriffes, &c. greet- 
ing. Forasmuch as many idle persons, nnder colour of oun- 
streby and g(Mng in messages and other feigned bmrnifss, 
hare been and yet be receired in other men s houses to meate 
and drynke, and be not therewith contented if they be not 
laigdy oonsydered iHth gifts of the lordes of the homes • . . 
we, wilfing to restrayne soche oatrageoos enterprises and 
idlenes ha^e ordeyned, that to the booses of prdates, carles, 
and barons, none resort to meate and drynke nnless he be a 
mynstrel, and of these mynstreb that there come none except 
it be three or four mynstrels of honour at the most in one 
day» unless he be desired of the lorde of the honn. And to 
the houses of meaner men, that none oonw mleas he be 
denred, and that such as shall come sc bolde themselves 
contented with meaie and drynke, and with soch eortesie as 
the muster of the boose wyl showe onto them of his owne 
good wyl, without their askyng any thyng. And yf any do 
against this oidinannce, at the fiiste tyme he to lose hb myn* 


fitrcldie, and at the second tyme to forsweare his craft, and 
never to be receaved for a mynstrel in any house. Geven 
at Langley, the 6th day of August, in the 9th yerQ of our 

There are many names associated with the history of poetry 
and music to which we cannot even briefly allude, but there 
is one author so intimately connected with the present state 
of English literature, and who gives us so excellent a description 
of the music of his day, that his works must receive some 
attention in a sketch of the history of music. 

Chaucer was born in the year 1328, and died in 1400. Of 
his poems the critics of his own and succeeding ages have 
spoken in the highest terms, and he has received by common 
consent the title of the Father of English Poetry. ** Chaucer,** 
says Caxton, " for his ornate wrytyng in our tongue, maye 
well hav« the name of a laureat poete ; for to fore that he, 
by hys labour, embellyshyd, ornated, and made faire our 
Englyshe in thys royame was had rude speeche, and incon- 
grue, as it yet appeareth by olde bookes whyche at thys day 
ought not to have place, ne be compared emong, ne to his 
beauteous volumes, [|and aournate wrytynges, of whom he 
made many bokes and treatyces^ of many a noble historye, 
as well in metre and ryme, as in prose, and them so craftyly 
made, that he coB»prehended hys masters in short, quick, and 
faye sentences, eschewing prolygyte, castyng away the chaf 
of superfluyte and shewying the pyked grain of sentence, 
uttered by crafty and sugred eloquence." 

Chaucer's ** Canterbury Tales" are no doubt well known 
to our readers. Thirty persons, of whom the poet himself is 
one, set out from the Tarbarde Inn^ in Southwark, on a piU 


grimage to the ghrine of St. Thomas a Becket, in the cathe- 
dral church of Canterbury. To enliven the journey, the 
pilgrims relate tales, of which the work itself consists. In 
Chaucer's description of his fellow-travellers, forming the 
prologue of the work, and in various parts of the poems, there 
are interesting allusions to music. Among the company we 
find a mendicant fiiar, a monk, a knight and his squire, a 
prioress, an Oxford clerk, a poor scholar, a miller, and a parish 
clerk, and the musical talents of all are alluded to. 

The mendicant friar was a happy soul, who had the art of 
pleasing every body j 

** And certainly he hadde a merry note, 
Wei coude he singe, and plaien on the rote."' 

The monk was a sportsman, and was best pleased with the 
music of the hounds ; 

** And when he rode, men mighte his bridel here 
Ginge'ling in a whistling wind as clere. 
And eke as loud as doth the chapel belle.*' 

The sqmre was a beau, and had all the qualifications of a 
gentleman : — 

** Singing he wag, or floighting all the day.** 

We are also informed that 

** He coad^ songes make, and well endite ; 
Juste, and eke dance, and well pourtraye and write. 


The lady prioress has a character from the poet not very 
unlike that now oflen given to a certain class of maiden ladies : — 

** And she was clepM Madame Eglantine, 
Full wel she sang^ the service divine, 
Entuned in hir nose ful swetely.** 


The Oxford clerk loved his books better than music ; but 
(he poor scholar was not unlearned in the art : — 

** And all above there lay a gay sautrie, 
On which he made on night^s melodie. 
So sweetly, that all the chambre rong ; 
And * Angelas ad Yirginem* he song : 
And after that he song the kinges note ; 
Full often blessed was his mery throte/' 

The miller also was a musician : — 

** A baggepipe wel couthe he blowe, and soun^ 
And therewithal he brought us out of town/* 

The parish clerk 

** Could playen song^s on a small ribible 
And as well coud he play on a giteme.** 

In Chaucer's poem of " The Floure and the Leafe* there 
are many passages which may guide us to an accurate esti- 
mate of the state of music in his day. A few of these may be 

^* And as I sat the birdis herkening thus, 
Methought that I herd voicis suddainly. 
The most swetist and most delicious 
That evir any wight I trow trewly 
Herdia in ther life • • • 
At the last out of a grove evin by 
That was right godely and plesaunt to sight, 
T se where there came singing lustily 
A world of ladies • # » 

There many were of them 
That dauncid and eke song full sobirly. 
But all they yede in manner of compace ; 
But one there yede in mid the company, 
Sole by herself : but all followed the pace 


That she kept • ♦ ♦ • 
And she began a roundell lustily ; 
And then the company answered all 
With voices swete entwined and so small, 
That methought it the swetist melody 
That evir I herd in my life sothly." 

Many of Chaucer's songs were- set to music, but none of 
the music has been preserved. Whether it would have any 
other iipterest than that of satisfying our curiosity, is scarcely 
a matter of doubt, for the only English song of this early date, 
composed in 1415, in honour of the battle of Agincourt, is 
not so remarkable as to excite any very anxious desire for a 
greater variety. 

At the coronation of Henry the Fifth, in 1413, an incredible 
number of harpers were employed ; but this monarch was 
either little pleased with the musical talents of his subjects, 
or had no taste for the art. When he entered the city of 
London, after the battle of Agincourt, he was received with 
much honour, and all the formalities were connected with 
either vocal or instrumental music. But Henry was not 
pleased with the music, for he afterwards issued a formal edict 
that no songs in honour of the victory should be again recited 
by harpers, or any others. From this incident it may be sup- 
posed that music did not receive much patronage at court 
during his reign, which was however so short, and attended 
with sormany stirring incidents, that the art could have suf- 
fered but little permanent detriment from this cause. 

The reign of Henry the Sixth commenced in the year 1422, 
and may be said to have terminated in 1461. This weak 
and unfortunate prince, who studied only hb own ease, was 
not likely to give a decided popular feeling either in favour 


of or in opposition to the science of masic. The minstrels 
led, as they had in former times, a wandering life, and no 
improvement of any importance was introduced. 

The reign of Edward the Fourth terminated in the year 
1482, and is distinguished by an almost uninterrupted series 
of wars. The king himself, however, delighted in splendour, 
and, if we may judge from his character, was likely to encou- 
rage the fascinating art of music. He entertained, as we are 
informed by history, a considerable number of musicians for 
the service of the chapel, and for his own amusement. To 
this appointment has been attributed the permanent musical 
establishments of the chapel royal, and the king's band ; for 
in the year 1469 he did, by letters patent, *' give and grant 
licence unto Walter Haliday Marshall, John Cuff, and Robert 
Marshall, Thomas Grane, Thomas Calthome,' William Cliff, 
William Chrisdan, and William Eyneysham, then minstrels 
of the said king, that they by themselves should be, in deed 
and name, one body and cominality, perpetual and capable in 
the law, and should have perpetual succession : and that as 
well the minstrels of the ssdd king, which then were, as other 
minstrels of the said king, and his heirs which should be 
afterwards, might at their pleasure name, choose, ordain, and 
successively constitute from among themselves, one marshal!, 
able and fit to remain in that office during his life ; and also 
two wardens every year, to govern the said fraternity and 

Towards the close of the fifteenth century, many noble 
inventions were proposed to the public, and the foundation 
was laid for a wonderful change of manners. Music also 
continued to advance, although in the reign of Elizabeth it 


was not such as would please a modern^ or as some would 
say, a fastidious ear. 

Josquin des Pres, a musician of the Flemish school, was 
by far the most celebrated composer of his day. Adami calls 
kim ** Uomo insigne per 1* inyentione." He held the appoint* 
ment of Maestro di Capello to Louis the Twelfth of France, 
and was promised a benefice by that monarch. The promise 
was, however, forgotten, and Josquin being commanded ta 
compose a motet for the chapel royal, chose a verse from the 
119th Psalm, " Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo." The music 
was greatly admired, and brought the promised gift ; after 
which he composed a song of thanksgiving from the words, 
** Bonitatem fecisti cum servo tuo, Domine.'' Several of 
Josquin's compositions are still in being, some*in a mus^« 
book that belonged i& Prince Hepry, afterwards Henry the 
Eighth, preserved ia the Pepys collection at Cambridge^ 
and some in a manuscript in the British Museum. 

During the reign of Henry the Eighth, music, or we might, 
perhaps, rather say, ecclesiastical music, was in great estima- 
tion. The king himself is said to have possessed some know- 
ledge of both the science and practice* for Hollingshed, in his 
** Chronicles," states, that he exercised himself daily in shoot- 
ing, singing, dancing, wrestling, casting of the barre, plaieing 
at the recorders, flute, virginals, in setting of songs and 
making of ballades." According to Lord Herbert, the prince 
was, during the lifetime of his brother, intended for the arch- 
bishopric of Canterbury, and was educated accordingly. He 
is spoken of as an able Latinist, philosopher, divine, and mu- 
sician. Two entire masses composed by him were often sung 
at his chapel. 


Cavendish has described the magnificent arrangements in 
Cardinal Wolsey's chapel: ^' First he had there a dean, a great 
divine and a man of excellent learning, a sub-dean, a repeatour 
of the quire, a gospeller, and epistolor ; of singing priests ten, 
a master of the children. The seculars of the cbapeli, being 
singing men twelve ; singing children ten, with one servant 
to wait on them. In the vestry a yeoman and two grooms, 
over and besides other retainers that came thither at principal 

But whatever may have been the excellency of ecclesiastical 
music at this time, domestic instrumental music must have been 
in a deplorably wretched condition, if it be true> as stated by 
Hollingshed, that the king when he attended a masque at the 
cardinal's palace, was entertained with '* a concert of drums 
and fifes." The choral music was undoubtedly very superior 
to the instrumental. Henry is ssud to have composed two 
masses himself, and gave every encouragement to the musi- 
cians who most distinguished themselves. Even on his 
journeys he was attended by a part of his choir, as appears 
from the regulations given to the household by Cardinal 
Wolsey, in the year 1526 : ** When the king is on journeys 
or progresses, only six singing boys, and six gentlemen of 
the choir, shall make a part of the royal retinue : who day- 
lie, in absence of the residue of the chapel, shall have a 
mass of our lady before noon, and on Sundais and holidaies, 
masse of the daie, beside our lady masse^ and an anthempne 
in the afternoon ; for which purpose no great carriage of either 
vestments or bookes shall require.** 

We are now almost confining our attention to the progress 
of music iu England, but it may be worthy remark that th« 


Emperor Charles the Fifth was passionately fond of the study, 
and after the abdication of his throne, devoted much of his 
time to the improvement of the music in the religious service. 

" The emperor," says Sandoval^ ** understood music, fch 
and tasted its charms ; the fryers often discovered him behind 
the door, as he sate in his own apartment near the high altar, 
beating time and singing in parts with the performers ; and if 
any one was out, they could overhear him calling the offender 

The violent religious discussions during the reign of Henry 
the Eighth had but little influence on the practice of music, 
for he was by no means inclined to reform to the extent de» 
sired by some of his subjects, who considered that " synging 
and saying of mass, matins, or even song, is but rorying, 
howling, whistelyng, mummying, conjuryng, and jogeling, 
and the playing at the organeys a foolish vanity.'* 

The reign of Edward the Sixth commenced in the year 
1547, and closed in the year 1553 ; but although so short, 
the names of many celebrated musicians have been recorded 
as the ornaments of the period. Dr. Christopher Tye seems 
to have been the principal composer of his day. Dr. Boyce 
has preserved one of his anthems, " I will exalt thee, O 
Lord I" in his collection of cathedral music by English 
masters. It was in the reign of Edward the Sixth that Stem- 
hold and Hopkins wrote their version of the Psalms, so many 
years used in all our churches ; a useful and proper composi- 
tion at the time when written, but now evidently unfit for public 
use. Specimens of the music of Farrant, and several other 
composers of this period, have been preserved. The cathe- 
dral service was first set to music by John Marbeck, of Wind- 


sor, in the year 1550 ; but many alterations were made during 
the reign of Edward. 

When Mary assumed the reins of gOYernment, and com- 
menced her cruel though short-lived sway over the affairs of 
this country, the Romish rites were restored ; but little alter- 
ation was made in the performance of ecclesiastical music, 
except that the Latin service was again employed. 

We have now traced, as briefly as possible, the history of 
music through a series of dark ages, and at last we must 
admit, that but little information has been or can be gathered. 
The progress of music, as well as all other arts, is dependent 
on the advancement of the human mind ; and it is as impos- 
sible that a barbarous people should possess fine music, as 
that they should be acquainted with the noblest sciences that 
have engaged the attention of the learned. The genius of 
Mozart would have been lost in a state of society unprepared 
by previous practice and experience for the development of 
his peculiar powers. But we now advance to a period when 
all the arts began to rise in our native country, and give evi- 
denee of that greatness which they were destined to exhibit 
in later ages. The information has hitherto been scanty, but 
from the time of Elizabeth to the present day is so varied and 
extensive, that little more can be done, than mention the 
names and works of those who have excelled in the prac- 
tice. This plan seems to be more consistent with the 
character and objects of this work than any other that could 
be adopted. 



i Elizabeth is spoken of by Camden and others, as a g'ood 
practical musician, ** being able to sing and play on the lute 
prettily and sweetly.** If she was able to perform the pieces 
in that manuscript known as Queen Elizabeth's Yii^n^ 
Book, she must in this respect have deserved the character 
that has been given her. It contains nearly three hundred 
pieces, many of them by Bird, Bull, and Farnabie^ and most 
of them elaborate compositions. 

The position in which Elizabeth was placed on her acces- 
sion to the throne was by no means enviable, for the inno- 
vating spirit of the Puritans on the one hand, and the deter- 
mination of the Papists to resist all change on the other, must 
have required more than ordinary discrimination to adopt a 
medium policy, without causing an out-burst of either party, 
and involving the country in the horrors of civil war. It is 
not, however, our object to trace the character of that 
Reformation she introduced^ except as it may be connected 
with the progress of ecclesiastical music. Among the va- 
rious requests of the Puritans, we find one, ** That all cathedral 
churches may be put down, where the service of God is griev- 
ously abused by piping with organs, singing, ringing and trowl- 
ing of psalms from one side of the choir to another, with the 
squeaking of chanting choristers, disguised (as are all the 
rest) in white surplices ; some in corner caps and silly copes, 
imitating the fashion and manner of antichrist, the pope, that 
man of sin and child of perdition, with his other rabble of 
miscreants and shavelings." 

Such changes, however, were never contemplated by the 


queen, nor did she offer the Puritans any inducement to 
foelieye she was in any Vay favourable to their opinions or 
tenets. Some alteration was necessary and enjoined by an 
injunction published in the year 1559, which provides for the 
maintenance of choral singing in some collegiate and parish 
churches, yet permits the introduction of ** a hymn, or such 
like song to the praise of Almighty God, in the best melody 
and musick that may be conveniently devised, having respect 
that the sentence of the hymn may be properly understpod 
and perceived." 

In the year 1559, the Liturgy was printed under the fol- 
lowing title : " The Boke of Common Prayer and Adminis- 
tration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of 
the Church of England." In the following year, Tallis and 
other celebrated musicians published ** Certsdne Notes, set 
forth in foure and three Partes, to be song at the Morning 
Communion and Evening Praier, very necessarie for the 
Church of Christe to be frequented and used : and unto 
them be added, divers Godly Praiers and Psalmes, in the like 
Form to the Honour and Praise of God. Imprinted at 
London, over Aldersgate, beneath St. Martin's, by John 
Davy, 1560.** The same authors published in 1565 another 
and similar work, called " Morning and Evening Prayer and 
Communion, set forthe in foure Partes, to be sung in Churches, 
both for Men and Children, with dyvers other Godly Prayers 
and Anthems of sundry Men's doyings." 

Among the most celebrated performers and composers of 
this reign, we must mention Robert White, Thomas Tallis, 
William Bird, Thomas Morley, and Dr. John Bull. 

Very little is known of either the life or works of Robert 


White. Many of hi» manuscripts ba^e been preserved ia 
the library of Christ Church, Oxford. His compositions are 
spoken of in the highest terms by writers on the history of 
music, but his works have never been publbhed. 

Tallis was a musician of no ordinary genius. Many of 
his works are still known and appreciated by those who study 
the old church music. Dr. Burney prefers his Latin motetSF 
and hymns, or Cantiones Sacras, published in 1575, to any 
others of his pieces. In Dr. Tudway's collection of church 
music written for Lord Harley, and preserved among the 
Harleian manuscripts in the Museum Library (7337), the 
whole of the service by Tallis in D minor is inserted. Id 
Christ Church, Oxford, there are manuscript copies of many 
others of his works. 

Bird was a singing-boy in Edward the ^xth's chapel. la 
1563 he was appointed organist of Lincoln cathedral, and in 
1569 gentleman of the chapel royal. He was a voluminous 
composer, and many of his pieces are held in the highest 
estimation. Dr. Aldrich made a large collection of hi» 
works, and adapted many of his pieces to English words; 
all these were bequeathed to Christ Church, Oxford. In Dr. 
Tudway's collection * we find an entire service by Bird, in 
D major ; and also several anthems, some of which were 
published by Dr. Boyce in his cathedral music. It is gene- 
rally supposed that Bird is the author of that celebrated 
canon ** Non Nobis Domine." 

Nearly all that we know of Morley may be told in one sen- 
tence ; he was a pupil of Bird's ; a bachelor of music ; a gentle- 

----- - - ■ ■ — ■ 1 -1 ■ — — 

* British Museum. 


man of Queen Elizabeth's chapel j the author of ** A plaine and 
easie Introduction to Practical Musicke,** and composed much 
that is esteemed, though not altogether free from the charge of 
plagiarism. His burial service^ still occasionally used in West* 
minster Abbey^ is the most celebrated of his pieces. 

John Bull was born in Somersetshire about the year 1563 ; 
was appointed organist of the 'chapel royal in 1591, and 
was the first professor of music in the Gresham College. The 
introductory lecture was published under the following title : 
** The Oration of Maister John Bull, Doctor of Musicke, and 
one of the Gentlemen of her Majestie*s Royall Chapell, a» 
he pronounced the same before divers worshipful Persons, 
the Aldermen and Commons of the Citie of London, with 
a great Multitude of other People, the 6th day of October, 
1567, in the new-erected Colledge of Sir Thomas Gresham* 
Knt*, deceased.'* In the year 1607, Bull resigned the profes- 
sorship, and in 1613 left England and entered the service of 
the Archduke, in the Netherlands, and is supposed to hav6 
died at Lubeck in 1622. 

There has never been a great public institution so grossly 
mismanaged as the Gresham College ; but when we remem* 
ber that in London every thing is done by interest, this is 
not surprising. Nor is there now any prospect of a better 
system : a short time since the chair of astronomy was vacant, 
and as a show of impartiality the candidates were requested 
to deliver trial lectures ; but five members of the committee 
were ever in the room at the same time. The institution is 
worse than useless to the public, as now conducted. 

Dr. Bull was one of the greatest performers ever known;; 

Q 2 


but his compositions have little if anj interest ; his learniiig 
was great, his genius small. 

Of secular mnsic during the reign of Elizabeth we have 
not any extenslYC means of judging ; but certainly the talent 
of the period must be estimated by its church nausic and 

Haying traced the history of music in England to the close 
of the sixteenth century, we shall direct the attention of the 
reader to the works of a few of the most celebrated com- 
posers on the Continent, and then dose our brief and neces* 
sarily imperfect, yet it is hoped useful sketch, by a history of 
ilk musicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 
without reference to their places of birth, or the countries in 
which their compositions had most influence on the public taste. 


Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was born in the year 
1529 ; was admitted into the Pope's chapel at Rome, in 1555 ; 
was elected Maestro di Capella of Santa Maria Maggiore, in 
1562; of Saint Peter's, in 1571 ; and died in 1594, being 
sixty-five years of age. 

That Palestrina was by far the most eminent composer of 
the sixteenth century, is admitted both by his contemporaries 
and by posterity. Giovanni Guidetto, chaplsun to Gregory 
the Thirteenth, being appointed to collect and regulate Ifhe 
choir service of St. Peter's^ avsdled himself of this author's 
assistance, and acknowledges the advantage he derived from 
him in the following words : *' If the compilation be found 
to have any merit, it must be chiefly ascribed to his kind 


assistance." Palestrina's music is remarkable for the simpli- 
city of style, and the cheerful character of his melody. He 
has been called the Homer of music, and with some reason, 
for all the ancient composers are forgotten when his name is 
mentioned. His works are numerous. Besides twelve books 
of masses, he published many motets, hymns, madrigals, 
magnificats, and other pieces. It is said that the Pope being 
offended with the manner in which the mass had been set 
and performed, had resolved to banbh music in parts from 
the church, but Palestrina requested him first to hear one 
which he would compose. The celebrated composition called 
** Missa Papse Marcelli *' was written^ and performed at Easter, 
155d^ before the pope and cardinals, who were so delighted 
with the music that it was instantly adopted in the celebra- 
tion of the rites of the Romish church. 

Luca Marenzio, called by his countrymen ** II piu dolce 
cigno,** was born at Coccaglia, and stood unrivalled among 
his contemporaries for his madrigals. ** He excelled," says 
Peacham, *' all others whatsoever, having published more 
sets than anyauthor else, and hath not an ill song* 

In France there were few composers of celebrity during 
the sixteenth century, and none whose works excite any 
interest in the present day. Francis Eustache Du Caurroy, 
born in the year 1549, was called by his contemporaries *' Le 
Prince des Professeurs de Musique," and if this be a true 
character, there is little occasion to examine further into the 
records of the national music in this age. 

Francis Salinas and Christofero Morales were the most 
celebrated Spanbh musicians of the sixteenth century. Sali- 
nas was a native of Buigos, and being blind, his attention 


was directed to music by his parents. By a female whom 
he taught to play on the organ he was instructed in the Latin 
language ; and became so enamoured with the study of lite- 
rature, that he was sent to Salamanca, where he gained an 
acquaintance vtith Greek literature and philosophy. Here he 
was introduced to Peter Sarmentus, archbishop of Compos- 
tella, who took him under his protection. Many years after 
this, he was appointed professdr of music at his own univer- 
sity. He is spoken of as an admirable performer on the 
organ, and better acquainted with the science of music and 
the works of his predecessors, than any other person. 

Morales was celebrated throughout Europe previous to the 
introduction of Palestrina's works ; and his music has great 
merit, though most uninteresting to a modern ear/ 

Many musicians of note flourished in the Netherlands 
during the sixteenth century, Gombert, Jacket Berghem, 
Clemens non Papa, Cipriano de' Rore, and Orlando di Lasso, 
may be named in particular. 


There are many persons who, although attached to music 
AS a source of pleasure, do not seem to be aware that there 
is any other means of exercising their skill than in the per* 
formance of the many light and generally trifling airs which 
are now in great numbers daily sent from the press. The 
object of these pages is to recall the attention to the 
old masters, not to create any fashionable dislike to the 
meritorious compositions of the present day. The history 
of music is, however, a subject too extensive to be adequately 


discusBed in the few pages we are devoting to it, and it is 
therefore necessary we should only speak of those masters 
whose works are most interesting to the modern performer. 

The reign of James the First is not particularly distin- 
guished as favourable to the progress of music ; yet there 
were in his day several eminent composers. Among them 
we may mention Dr. Gyles, Tomkins, Edwin Bevin, whose 
works are <iistinguished by great harmony, and Orlando 

" The harmony of Gibbons's service in F, printed by Dr. 
Boyce," says Dr. Burney, " is pure, clear, and grateful ; and 
the melody more accented and flowing than I have found in 
any choral music of equal antiquity. The two parts in one 
of the ' Gloria Patri/ though they may be the cause of some 
confusion in the words, discover no restraint or sti£fnes8 in the 
melody, which continues to mov« with the same freedom as 
if no canon had existed. And though the purists, on account 
of the confusion arising from all the parts singing different 
words at the same time, pronounce the style in which his fuU 
anthems are composed to be vicious ; yet the admirers of 
fugue, ingenious contrivance, and rich, simple, and pleasing 
harmony, must regard them as exquisite productions, a//a 
Palesiiina, a style in which Tallis and Bird acquired so much 

Dr. Tudway, in his ^' Collection of the most celebrated 
Services and Anthems used in the Church of England,** 
speaking of Tallis and Bird, says " None of the later com- 
posers could ever make appear so exalted a faculty in com^ 
positions for the church, except that most excellent artist, 
Orlaudo Gibbons, organist and servant to King Charles the 


First, wboce whole serrice, with seTenl antheiiH^ are the 
most perfect pieces of church conpositioiis which have 
appeared since the time of Tallis and Bird ; the air so solema^ 
the fbgoes ind other embeUishments so just and natoiallj 
talcen, as most warm the heart of anj one who is endoed 
with a sool fitted for diyine raptures.* When atteii£a^ 
officially the marriage of Charies the First with the Priaceia 
Henrietta of France, at Canterbory, he was attacked witk 
the sma])-pox, died of the disease, and was bmied in the 

Almost the onlj kind of secidar mane reeeiTing anj 
degree of attention daring the reign of James the First, wan 
that required in the performance of masqaes, which wero 
sometimes introdaced at the palace and in the rendencea of 
nobles. The first masqoe plaved in England was perfomed 
at Greenwich^ in the year 1512 ; and in 1530, one at White- 
hall, " consisting of mosic, dandng, and a banquet, with a 
display of grotesque personages and fantastical dresses.* Pub- 
lic plays, howcTcr, preceded the introduction of masques^ for 
in the year 1 369, in the fourteenth year of Kchard the Second^ 
the parish clerks of London met ** at SkinnerV-well neere 
dark's-well,*^ to play interludes. The exhibition lasted three 
days, the king, queen, and nobles being present. All the 
dramatic poems of Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and 
of Milton, were written for private performance, and the 
music was adapted accordingly. 

Dr. Child, who was the most cdebrated musician of the 
reign of Charles the First, was a native of Bristol, and 
appointed to the office of organist of St. George's Chapd> 
Windsor^ in 1634. He died in the year 1697» at the a^ 


vanced age of ninety. His principal works are, psalms for 
three voices ; catches, rounds, and canons ; divine anthems ; 
and above all, his services and full anthems, published in 
Boyce*s collection. The style of this master is remarkable 
for its simplicity and easy harmony 

In the year 1633 the four inns of court invited Charles and 
his queen to hear at Whitehall " The Triumphs of Peace," a 
masque written by James Shirley, who has given an interest- 
ing account of the performance, and to that we must refer the 
reader for particulars. 

Henry Lawes was also a musician of some note, for to him 
was entrusted the work of setting Milton's '^ Comus" to 
music. This noble poem was written for the Earl of Bridge- 
water, and was first represented on Michaelmas night, 1634, 
at Ludlow Castle. Lawes performed the part of the Attending 
Spirit, and Milton has, perhaps, expressed his opinion of the 
musician's talent in a speech that he gave him. 

— " But I must put oflP 
These my sky robes, spun out of Iris' woof. 
And take the weed and likeness of a swain 
That to the service of this house belongs, 
Who, with his soft pipe, and smootb-dittied song, 
Well knows to still the wild woods when they roar. 
And hush the waving woods.** 

From the short account here given of the secular music in 
the reigns of James the First and his successor, it will be evi- 
dent that dramatic exhibitions were highly esteemed. It is 
sud that seventeen playhouses were opened in the reign of 
James the First, six of which were continued by Charles ; 
but none of these were, probably, better than the travelling 
exhibitions that now attend country wakes and fairs. 


Daring the Protectorate, music and all the fine arte were 
banished from the kingdom. The work of the Puritans was 
that of destruction ; not of either improvement or restoration. 
The period in which they held power is a dreary portion of 
our history, yet offers us a useful warning of the misfortunes 
which flow from intemperate zeal led on by artifice, canning, 
hypocrisy, and pride, which together, constituted the charac- 
ter of Cromwell. 

When Charles the Second came to the throne, the excesses 
of the court were, if possible, greater than the austerities of 
the protectorate. The gloomy tyranny of Cromwell had 
disgusted the people, and they drank deeply, as soon as an 
opportunity was afforded, of the intoxicating pleasures of life, 
with a zest they had never known if they had never borne 
the burden of puritanical austerity. 

During the protectorate every opportunity was taken to 
destroy the very remembrance of ecclesiastical music. The 
organs were broken, the music books were burnt, and both 
singers and composers were compelled to find some new em- 
ployment ; many in an honourable old age becoming depend* 
ant on the charity of their patrons. There was, therefore, a 
great difficulty in re-establishing, at the time of the Restora- 
tion, the form of music previously adopted in churches. The 
most celebrated performers were recalled, and honours were 
bestowed on them according to their merits : Gibbons, Child, f^^i 
Rogers, and Wilson, received the d^ree of doctor of music ; 
and the most talented artists were engaged to repair and 
rebuild the organs. Smith and Harris were the two most 
celebrated organ-builders of the period, and were so anxious 
for superiority, that in their competition for supplying the 


Temple Church both were nearly ruined. The instrument 
constructed by the former was, however, chosen ; and so sucv 
cessful was he in all his works, that a single stop, known to be 
his workmanship, is in the present day almost invaluable. 
Smith also built the organ in St. Paul's Cathedral, which is 
said to have a sweeter tone, excepting that in the Temple 
Church, than any other instrument in the kingdom, and the 
finest swell. The instrument by Harris, rejected at the 
Temple, was taken to pieces^ and a part of it erected at St. 
Andrew's Holbom, and a part at Christ Church, Dublin. 

Of the state of church music during the reign of Charles 
the Second, Dr. Tudway gives the following account : " The 
standard of church music begun by Mr. Tallis, Mr. Bird, and 
others, was continued for some years after the Restoration, 
and all composers conformed themselves to the pattern which 
was set them. 

*' His majesty, who was a brisk and airy prince, coming to 
the crown in the flower and vigour of his age, was soon, if I may 
so say, tired with the grave and solemn way which had been 
established by Tallis and Bird and others, ordered the com* 
posers of his chapel to add symphonies, &c. with instruments 
to their anthems ; and thereupon established a select number 
of his private music to play the symphony and ritornellos 
which he had appointed. The old masters of music, Dr, 
Child, Dr. Gibbons, Mr. Lowe, <Scc., organists to his majesty, 
hardly knew how to comport themselves with these new- 
fangled ways, but proceeded in their compositions according to 
the old style, and therefore there are only some full anthems 
and services of theirs to be found. 
** In about three or four years' lime, some of the forwardest 


and brightest children of the chapeL as Pelham, Humphrey, 
John Blow, &c., began to be masters of a faculty in com- 
posing; this his majesty greatly encouraged, by indulging 
their youthful fancies, so that every month at least they pro- 
duced something new of this kind." 

Humphrey wrote many choral compositions, some of which 
have been printed by Boyce and others^ and may be found in 
the collections made by Aldrich and Tudway. He died in 
the year 1674, at the age of twenty-seven. 

John Blow, who obtained his degree of doctor of music 
by the special grace of Archbishop Sancroft, wrote several 
anthems and services in a bold and pleasing style. His secu- 
lar music was collected and published in 1700, eight years 
before his death, under the title of Amphion Anglicus, and 
although the work was not successful, it contains much excel- 
lent music. 

Michael Wise was also an eminent composer, of the seven- 
teenth century, and wrote some admirable church music. He 
composed a service in D minor, several anthems and some 
songs. Wise was killed in 1687, by a watchman, in a street 
fray at Salisbury. 

Of all the English composers, Henry Purcell is by far t)ie 
most eminent, for he occupies the same rank among British 
musicians as Shakspeare does among the poets. He was 
bom in the year 1658, and received the elements of music 
from his father, who was a gentleman of the chapel royal. 
When his father died, which was in 1664, he was placed 
under the charge of Captain Cook, appointed, at the time 
of the Restoration, master of the children. By this ex- 
cellent teacher he was fitted for the duties of a chorister ; 


and so rapid was his progress in the art of music, that he 
received the appointment of organist to Westminster Abbey 
when only eighteen years of age. When a singing boy, he 
composed many anthems, some of which are still sung in our 
cathedrals. In 1682, he was promoted to the situation ^f 
organist at the chapel royal, vacant by the death of Edward 
Low ; and soon after this, his compositions were so celebrated 
through the country, that they were everywhere sought for 
with avidity. His attention, however, was not confined to 
church music ; he was equally successful in his compositions 
for the theatre and the chamber. Some of his church music 
may be found in Boyce and Tudway's collections, and his 
secular compositions in the " Orpheus Britannicus," and 
** A Collection of A}rres composed for the Theatre, and on 
other Occasions," published two years after his death. To 
enumerate his various works, or even those which are stUl 
(and ever must be, as long as rich and impassioned music is 
appreciated) ranked among the finest compositions of any 
master, would occupy more space than can here be devoted 
to the subject. His ** Te Deum,** and " Jubilate,** are inimi- 
table compositions. 

To speak of Purcell's music too highly is, in our estima* 
tion, almost impossible ; he takes rank with the greatest 
composers of all nations, and in some respects surpasses all. 
His works, however, are not generally known to his country- 
men, not even to many who employ their leisure in musical 

Thomas Tudway was a contemporary and fellow pupil 
with Purcell. He is chiefly celebrated for his valuable scores 
of church music now deposited in the British Museum, and 


for his puns. He received his degree of doctor of music, at 
Cambridge, in 1705, for which honour he composed as his 
exercise the anthem, ** Thou, O God, hast heard my ▼ows." 

Dr. Turner, Dr. Christopher Gibbons,and Benjamin Rogers, 
may also be mentioned among the eminent musicians of the 
seventeenth century. 

Music was cultivated with great zeal in Italy, a country 
which produced many eminent composers ; among whom we 
may mention Ludovico Viadana, the brothers Mazzochi, Gre 
gorio Allegri, Orazlo Benevoli, Frescobaldi, Ercole Bemabei 
and Agostino Steffani. 

Viadana has the reputation of inventing thorough-bass, 
Drandius, in an enumeration of his works, speaks of his choral 
pieces^ " with a continued and general bass, adapted to thd 
organ, according to a new invention, and useful to every 
singer as well as organist ; to which are added short rules and 
explanations for accompanying a general bass, according to 
the new method." Allegri was the author of the " Miserere,*^ 
still sung in the Roman Catholic chapels during Passion 
week. ' 

In the year 1653, the great Corelli was born, at Fusignano, 
in the Bolognese, a master whose name will ever be held in re* 
verence by those who delight in solemn, majestic, and sublime 
music. About the year 1683, he published his first twelve 
sonatas ; in 1685, the second set, under the title of « Balletti 
da Camera ;" in 1690, the third, and in 1694, the fourth. In 
1700, he published his solos. Corelli was naturally of a timid 
and bashful mind, and is reported to have been of a mild dis- 
position. His music has, no doubt, derived its character from 
the mind of the master, being chiefly distinguished for its sin- 

CORELU. 239 

plicity, grace, and elegance. ** His merit," says Geminiani, 
one of his pupils, " was not depth of learning, like that of his 
contemporary, Alessandro Scarlatti ; nor great fancy, or a 
rich invention in melody or harmony ; but a nice ear and 
most delicate taste, which led him to select the most pleasing 
melodies and harmonies, and to construct the part so as to 
produce the most delightful effect upon the ear." We cannot, 
however, agree with the opinion expressed by Scarlatti, who 
said that '* he found nothing greatly to admire in his compo- 
sitions, but was extremely struck with the manner in which he 
played his concertos, and his nice management of his band, 
the uncommon accuracy of whose performance gave the 
concertos an amazing effect even to the eye as well as the 

One anecdote told of Corelli so strikingly illustrates his 
character, that we cannot omit its insertion. After the pub- 
lication of his sonatas, by which his fame was carried to dis- 
tant countries, he received an invitation from the king of 
Naples to visit his court, and to exhibit his musical talent* 
The natural timidity of the musician made him unwilling to 
accept the invitation ; but the importunity of his friends pre- 
vailed, and taking with him the first violin and violoncello of 
his own band, fearing he should not be properly accompanied 
at Naples, he journeyed to the Neapolitan capital. When 
requested to play one of his concertos before the king, he 
excused himself on the plea that he had not his band with 
him. At last he consented, and was amazed to find that the 
Neapolitan musicians were able to perform at sight the music 
which his own band had to learn by repeated rehearsals. 
, On another occasion he was requested to lead in a masque 


composed by Scarlatti^ and in a difficult passage failed, though 
it was performed with ease by Petrillo, the leader of the 
Neapolitan band, and the other violins. Agitated and an- 
noyed with this circumstance, he led off a song in C minor, 
in the major key. ** Recomminciamo," said Scarlatti ; but 
Corelli again commenced in the major key, and Scarlatti was 
obliged to show him his error. Dispirited and dejected he 
returned to Rome, imagining himself disgraced. Soon after 
this, Valentini, a man in every respect inferior to Corelli, rose 
into public favour ; and this, with the misfortunes which had 
previously befallen him, acting on an extremely sensitive mind, 
hastened his death, which happened on the 18th of January, 
1713 ; and he was buried in the Santa Maria della Rotonda* 
To such a mind as that of Corelli, nothing can be more 
afflictive than genius, drawing the unfortunate possessor into 
a publicity which excites with more than natural hilarity, from 
the very love of its pursuit, in the time of prosperity, and 
drives into melancholy or desperation when fortune or the 
public frown. 

Of all the French musicians none are so celebrated as 
John Baptist LuUi. He was the son of a peasant, and was 
bom near Florence, in 1633. In 1646, he was brought into 
France, and held the menial office of under-scullion in the 
residence of Mademoiselle de Guise, ft was here he first 
exhibited his attachment to music by attempts to play on a 
miserable violin. Those who have had to submit to the tor- 
ture of hearing a beginner on this instrument, may believe 
that his propensity was by no means agreeable to his fellow* 
servants ; but his mistress hearing of his passion for musie, 
allowed him to take lessons at her expense. So great was 


now bis progress, that he was soon admitted into the king's 
band. In 1652 he was appointed master of a new band of 
violins ; but before this, he was in the habit of composing for 
the court ballets. He afterwards rose into great estimation 
through France, and wrote a great number of operas, by 
which he accumulated a very large sum of money. By Louis 
the Fourteenth he was highly esteemed, and from him re- 
ceived many honours. He was a man of unpolished man- 
ners> but had the art of equally pleasing and commanding. 
His death, which happened on the 22d of March, 1687, in 
the fifty-fourth year of his age, was occasioned by an acci- 
dent. During the performance of a Te Deum, composed 
after the recovery of the king from a dangerous illness, he 
happened, in beating time with a cane, to strike his foot 
instead of the floor. Mortification followed, of which he 
died. He was at this time composing the opera of Achille 
et Polixene, and his confessor refused him absolution unless 
he burnt it. The love of music, however, prevailed and 
induced him to an act of duplicity. One of the princes 
calling on him when rather better, said, " Why, Baptiste, 
have you been such a fool as to burn your new opera to 
humour a gloomy priest ?" " Hush I hush ! " he replied, " I 
have another copy.'' Lulli's music is more suited to the taste 
of the French than the English people. 

"When LuUi, the father of true French music," says 
Voltaire, " came into France, the dramatic music of Italy 
was of the same grave, noble, and simple kind as that which 
we still admire in the recitatives of Lulli ; and nothing can 
more resemble those recitatives than Luigi's famous motet, com- 
posed and universally admired in Italy about the same time. 


'* After Lalli, Colasse, Campra, Destouches, and other 
musicians^ have only been his imitators, till the time of Za- 
meau, a man who surpassed them all in science, and whose 
theoretical writings have made music a new art.** 

It would be an interesting task to trace the history of 
music through all the European countries, from the middle of 
the seventeenth century to the present time ; but to describe 
the styles and to record the characters of the most cele- 
brated composers and performers, would require many 
volumes. To bring this short sketch to a close, we will 
merely refer to some of the music most celebrated in our own 
day, and to the English church music, without reference to 
the establishment of the opera ; although we are chiefly in- 
debted to that, as must be allowed by all persons^ for the 
improved taste. Some limit, however, must now be drawn, 
and at a future time we may, perhaps, enter more fully into 
this most important subject. 

George Frederic Handel was the son of an eminent phy- 
sician and surgeon at Halle, and was born on the 24th 
February, 1684. It was his father's intention to have edu- 
cated him for the profession of the law, but he evinced in 
his childhood so great a talent for music, that his parent 
prudently relinquished his own wishes, and placed him under 
the tuition of Zachau, the organist at the cathedral of Halle. 
When only nine years of age he was able to perform the 
services for his master, and commenced the study of compo- 
sition. In the year 1698, when fourteen years old, he was 
taken to Berlin, at which court music ^was then greatly 
patronised. The elector of Brandenburg, afterwards king 
of Prussia, was greatly pleased with young Handel, and 

HANDEL. 243 

offered to send him at his own expense into Italy to complete 
his studies, but his father refused the proposal. Shortly after 
his return to Berlin, the elder Handel died, and the son 
removed to Hamburgh, where he continued for some ^time 
to practice as an opera player. Matheson, a contemporary 
and friend of HandeFs, has given an account of his habits 
during this period of his life. Matheson was a player on 
the harpsichord and Handel on the organ, and they appear 
to have had an agreement between them not to play in 
public on each other's instrument ** Handel,** says his friend, 
** pretended ignorance in a manner peculiar to himself, by 
which he made the gravest people laugh. But his superior 
abilities were soon discovered, when upon occasion of the 
harpsichord-player at the opera being absent, he was per- 
suaded to take his place ; he then showed himself to be a 
great master, to the astonishment of every one except 
myself, who had frequently before heard him upon keyed 

In December, 1704, Handel produced " Almira," his first 
opera ; and on the 25th of February, 1705, another called 
" Nero." 

Having obtained sufficient money to defray the expenses of 
a journey to Italy, he left Hamburgh in 1709. He first 
visited Florence, where he composed the opera of '* Rodrigo." 
At Venice he remained some time, and there produced his 
** Agrippina," which was heard with great applause. At 
Rome he was received with attention by Cardinal Ottoboni, 
and during his stay had an opportunity of hearing the best 
music performed in the best manner under Scarlatti and 
Corelli. In 1710 he visited Hanover, and received the 



patronage of the elector, aflerwards George the First of 
England. Steffani was at this time Maestro di Capella, but 
resigned that office in his favour. He was, however, very 
anxious to visit England, from the representations made 
to him by the English nobility in the court of Hanover. 
This he was not only permitted to do, but his munificent 
patron also settled upon him a pension of fifteen hundred 
crowns, upon condition that he should return to his court. 

In the same year Handel arrived in England, and although 
he probably intended to have made only a short stay, he was 
received with so much kindness and flattering attention, that 
he thought but little of his return, until reminded of his 
ingratitude to the elector by the arrival of George the First. 

When Handel, whose fame was already established, arrived 
in this country, Hill, who was then a director of the Hay-* 
market theatre, requested him to write an opera founded on 
Tasso's ** Jerusalem." Rossi was engaged as ** a gentleman 
excellently qualified to fill up the model he had drawn with 
words so sounding, and so rich in sense, that if his transla- 
tion is in many places led to deviate, it is for want of power 
to reach the force of the original." The opera to which we 
refer is that called ** Rinaldo/* and was performed fifteen 
times without interruption, except as benefits occurred. 

In the year 1715, Handel composed his " Amadigi," and 
probably iu the house of the Earl of Burlington ; for in his 
preface he says, ** this opera more immediately claims your 
lordship's protection^ as it was composed in your own family." 

Of all Handel's compositions, none are so highly esteemed 
In England as his oratorios, of which the following is a chro- 
nological list : — 


Esther 1720 

Deborah, Athalia 1733 

Acis and Galatea .... 1735 

Alexander's Feast 1735 

Ode, St. Cecilia's Day . . . 1736 

Israel in Egvpt 1738 

L' Allegro ed il Pensieroso . . . 1739 
Saul * . . ^ . . « 1740 

Messiah 1741 

Samson 1742 

Semele, Belshazzar, Susanna . . 1743 

Hercules 1744 

Choice of Hercules . . , . 1745 

Judas Maccabaeus 1746 

Joshua 1747 

Solomon ..,..• 1749 

Theodora 1750 

Jephtha 1751 

The difficulties which this great composer had to contend 
with during his residence in England, and his ultimate suc- 
cess, the peculiarity of his temper, the remarkable manner 
of his performances, and the touching magic of his compo- 
sitions, are too well known to need any remark. His style is 
copious, dignified, and full of invention ; and all his compo- 
sitions are remarkable for the control they exercise over the 

Leonardo Vinci, a composer of the Neapolitan school, was 
very celebrated in his own day, and some of his operas are 
most worthy of esteem. It is said, that he was a runaway 
student from the Conservatorio at Naples. In the year 1 72i 


he wrote the music for the opera of Famace for the Aliberti 
theatre at Rome, which was so successful, that it established 
his fame, and for several years after he was constantlj 
engagecl in musical compositions. Vinci deserres mention 
not only for the pleasing harmony of his melodies, but also 
for the alteration he made in the character of dramatic 
music. Count Algarotti, speaking of the rausie set to Metas* 
tasio's '* Did one Abandonata," says, *' Virgil would himself 
have been pleased to hear a composition so animated and 
so terrible, in which the heart and soul were at once assailed 
by all the united powers of music." 

The name of Pergolesi is well known to all our readers,, 
and his merits cannot be passed over in silence. This cele- 
brated musician was bom at Casoria, about ten miles from 
Naples, in the year 1704. His musical talent being early 
discovered, he was sent to the Ck)nservatorio at Naples, and 
when quite a child gave many specimens of his power In com- 
position. In his own country he obtained but little patron- 
age, for although he procured some employment by the 
assistance of the Prince of Stegliano, his operas were never 
successful at Naples. In 17d5 he was engaged to compose 
an opera for the Tordinone theatre at Rome^ to the poetry of 
Metastasio ; all his efforts, however, were here unsuccessful^ 
he was praised by none but professors and^men of taste. So 
great was his mortification, that he does not seem to have 
resumed his pen until engaged by the Duke of Matelon to 
compose a mask to be performed at Rome. His success was 
now as great as his previous disappointment, every one was 
delighted, and his fame soon spread through neighbouring 
countries. But his life was drawing to a close. For several 


years previously he had shown symptoms of consumption, 
which now assumed a more serious character, and was recom- 
mended to take a small house at Torre del Greco, by the 
•eapside near Mount Vesuvius. It was here that he composed 
his " Stabat Mater " and « Orpheus and Eurydice." He died 
in the thirty -third year of his age, esteemed in all countries 
as one of the greatest composers of his day. 

Nicolo Jomelli must also be mentioned as an Italian musi- 
cian of great genius ; he was born in the year 1714, and 
died in the year 1774. He chiefly directed his attention to 
the composition of operas, but his admirable church music 
proves that he was equally capable of that style. The cele- 
brated Mattel gives the following description of him in hit 
account of the funereal ceremony : " Jomelli was my friend, 
he lived two years in my neighbourhood, and I had frequent 
opportunities of conversing with him, and of admiring his 
captivating manners, particularly his modesty in speaking of 
rival artbts, whose compositions he readily praised, though 
their authors were not^ equally candid in speaking of him. 
The learning which appears in his works procured him the 
esteem of consummate musicians, but sometimes lost him 

that of the multitude A learned and ingenious 

music like that of Jomelli, abounding in harmony and con- 
trivance, which requires a careful execution and the utmost 
stillness and attention in the audience, could not satisfy the 
frivolous and depraved taste of the Italians ; who used to say 
that the music of Gluck, Jomelli, Hasse, and Bach, was too 
rough and German, and pleased them less than the songs of 
the gondolier! !" 

Joseph Haydn was born at Rhoraw, in Lower Austria, in 


the year 1733. His father was a wheelwright, and the 
musical talents of his son were excited by his occasional per- 
formance on the harp. His musical genius being discovered, 
he was placed in the cathedral at Vienna, and having a 
powerful voice of great compass, was received into the choir, 
and taught both the art and science of music. When his 
voice broke he was dismissed from the cathedral, and sup- 
ported himself by teaching and occasional performance. In 
1 759 he received the appointment of director of music in the 
service of Count Marzin. In 1761 he was promoted to the 
same office in the establishment of Prince Esterhasi. 

Haydn's music, or at least his oratorio of ^ the Creation," 
is well-known in this country, and universally admired for its 
richness and pathos. His "Stabat Mater" and oratorio of 
" II Ritorno di Tobia,** are better known on the Continent 
than in this country ; but the music in both is of the highest 
rank. The instrumental '* Passione,** which are founded on 
the seven last sentences of our Saviour, is one of his last and 
most perfect compositions, and, perhaps, unequalled in their 
peculiar style by anything that he or any other composer 
has written. This celebrated writer, who was called the 
father of modern music, died in May, 1809, at the age of 

Piccini, Gluck, Sacchini, Bach, and many other musicians 
of high rank, might here be appropriately mentioned did our 
pages admit, but we must pass over them to give a short 
account of the great Mozart. 

The name of Mozart is dear to every true lover of music ; 
his style is peculiar, but his compositions have a much more 
powerful influence on the feelings than any other with which 

MOZART. 249 

we are acquainted. In all his operas he exercises a despotic 
influence over the passions of the auditor, agitating or com- 
posing the mind, and always adapting the style of his har- 
mony to the full expression of the sentiments the words 

Many of the greatest musical composers have been re- 
markable for the precocity of their genius, but none have 
evinced their talents at so early an age as Mozart. He was 
scarcely three years old, when his father commenced teaching 
him the harpsichord, over which instrument he is said to 
have had a perfect control when only four years of age ; 
but he was not, even then, satisfied with playing those pieces 
which were placed before him, but indulged himself in the 
composition of minuets and other light movements. He was 
scarcely five years old, when on his return from church he 
was found writing a concerto for the harpsichofd which was 
composed according to the strictest rules of art, but so diffi- 
cult in its execution, that his father, who was a musician of 
no ordinary rank, declared that no one would be able to play 
it. *^ It is a concerto," said the child, '< and must be well stu- 
died before it can be played properly ;*' and sitting down at the 
piano said, ** This is the style in which it ought to be executed/' 
and attempted to give some idea of his conception. 

This singular child was not less distinguished for the mild- 
ness of his disposition than for his extraordinary musical 
genius. To the warmth of his affections we may in a great 
measure attribute the touching sweetness of many of his com- 
positions and the power which he aflerwards exercised over 
. the feelings of others. It is recorded of him that he would 



frequently ask those about him " Do you love me !.** and if 
answered in the negative, even in jest, he wept bitterly. 

Before he was six years old (Jan. 1762), his father, who 
could not fail to perceive and value the extraordinary genius 
of his son, took a journey to Munich with hb two children to 
perform before the elector and the royal family. Young 
Mozart was here received with every mark of attention, and 
excited the greatest surprise in the minds of all who heard 
him. In the following autjumn he was taken to Vienna, where 
he gave concerts, and also in all the principal towns through 
which they passed. His father writing to a friend, says, *' On 
Thursday we arrived at Spes, where two Minorites and a 
Benedicline who accompanied us, said mass, during which oar 
little Wolfgang tumbled about upon the organ and played so 
well, that the Franciscan fathers, who were just sitting down 
to dinner with some friends, left the table and ran with all 
their company into the choir, where they were filled with 
wonder . . . The children are as merry as when they are 
at home. The boy is friendly with everybody, but particu- 
larly with military officers, as though be had known them cdl 
his life. He is the admiration of all.*' 

At Vienna, the Mozart family was received with kindness 
by the emperor, Francis the First, who was accustomed to 
call him his little magician. The sweetness of his disposition, 
united with his extraordinary talent, brought him into great 
favour with all the members of the royal family ; but so far 
was the attention of the noble and powerful from raising in his 
mind a spirit of pride, that it only developed the tenderness 
of his disposition. His love for music seems to have been 

MOZART. 231 

extended to the professors themselves^ for he always pre- 
ferred playing before them, performing with greater energy 
and care. Finding himself at one time surrounded only by 
the court, he turned to the emperor and asked with great 
simplicity, " Is not M. Wagenseil here ? he understands these 
things." The musician was sent for, and, taking his place by 
the side of the piano, the child turned to him and said, ** Sir, 
I am going to play one of your concertos ; you must turn 
over the leaves for me." 

The remarkable readiness with which Mozart made him- 
self master of any musical instrument is proved by an 
incident which occurred soon after his return to Salzburg. 
During his residence at Vienna, a small violin was given him, 
upon which he frequently practised, and with what success, 
may be gathered from the following tale related by Schacht- 
ner, the archbishop^s trumpeter, who was present on the occa- 
sion. Weulz, a celebrated violin- player, had called on the 
elder Mozart for his opinion of some trios which he had just 
wTitten. " The father played the bass, Weulz tlie first violin^ 
and I was to play the second. Mozart requested to take this 
part ; but his father reproved him for this childish demand, 
observing that as he had never received any regular lessons 
on the violin, he could not possibly play it properly. The 
son replied, that it did not appear to him necessary to receive 
lessons in order to play the second violin. His father, half 
angry at this reply, told him to go away and not interrupt us. 
Wolfgang was so hurt .at this that he began to cry bitterly. 
As he was going away with his little violin, I begged that he 
might be permitted to play with me, and the father, with a 
good deal of difficulty, consented. ' Well,' said he, * you may 


play with M. Schachtner, on condition that you play very 
softly, and do not let yourself be heard : otherwise I shall 
send you out directly.' We began the trio, little Mozart 
playing with me ; but it was not long before I perceived* 
with the greatest astonishment^ that I was perfectly useless. 
Without saying anything, I laid down my violin and looked 
at the father, who shed tears of affection at the sight The 
child played all the trios in the same manner. The com- 
mendations we bestowed upon him made him pretend that he 
could play the first violin. To humour him we let him try, 
and could not forbear laughing on hearing him execute this 
part ; very imperfectly, it is true, but still never to be set 

The exquisitely delicate sense of hearing possessed by the 
young Mozart, cannot be better described than by the men- 
tion of another anecdote. Wolfgang was very partial to an 
instrument that belonged to Schachtner, and often spoke of 
it as peculiar for the richness and softness of its tones. On 
one occasion he was amusing himself with his own little 
instrument, but turning round and addressing Schachtner, he 
said, " If you have left your violin tuned as it was when I last 
played on it, it must be at least half a quarter of a note sharper 
than mine.'' The remark, naturally enough, excited a laugh ; 
but when the instrument was brought, it was found to be as 
he said. 

In 1763 the Mozart family commenced a new expedition, 
beyond the bouudaries of Germany, and the two children 
gave public concerts before princes and the nobility in all the 
principal towns through which they passed. An anecdote is 
told of Wolfgang, that remarkably shows the simplicity of 


his mind at this period. Whea at Versailles, Madame de 
Pompadour had him placed upon a table, but as he ap. 
proached her, she turned from him ; on which he indignantly- 
exclaimed, " I wonder who she is, that she will not kiss me, — 
the empress has kissed me." In 1764 he arrived in England, 
and was received with great attention by the king and royal 
family. After playing at sight before his majesty many 
pieces by the old masters, the king gave him the bass of one 
of Handel's airs, to which he instantly composed a beautiful 
melody. The father writing to a friend, says, " A week after, 
as we were walking in St. James's Park, the king and queen 
came by in their carriage, and although we were differently 
dressed, they knew us ; and not only that, but the king opened 
the window, and putting his head out and laughing, greeted 
us with head and hands, particularly master Wolfgang." 

In 1767 the family again visited Venice, and Mozart there 
wrote his first opera, " La Firta Semplia," by command of the 
emperor ; but it was never performed, in consequence of the 
jealousy of the musicians. " The whole hell of music here," 
says his father, " has risen to prevent the talent of a child 
from being seen.'' When about fourteen years old, he received 
the order of the Cross, at Rbme, from the pope. In Decem- 
ber 1770 his opera of ** Mitridate" was performed at Milan, 
with rapturous applause, and his great genius as a composer, 
as well as a performer, was established. His course, however, 
was not one of prosperity ; for those who had admired and 
cherished him as a boy, seemed to forget him as a man, and 
he even failed to obtain the situation of music-master to the 
royal family, with a salary of forty pounds a year. 

To give any description of the character of his music is 


unnecessary. Haydn has spoken of him as " the most extra- 
ordinary, original, and comprehensive musical genius ever 
known in this or any age or nation." His celebrated *' Re- 
quiem'* was the last and not the least beautiful of his compo- 
sitions. Of his death, the following account is given by his 
sister-in-law : '* As I approached his bed, he called to me, * I 
am glad to see you here ; you must stay to-night, and see me 
die.' I tried to persuade him out of this, but he answered, 
* I have already the taste of death upon my tongue ; I can 
feel it : and who would be with Constance if you are not?* 
I only went away for a short time to give my mother some 
intelligence I had promised her, and when I came back to my 
disconsolate sister, Siissmaier was by Mozart*s bed-side. Upon 
the counterpane lay the * Requiem,* and Mozart was expltun- 
ing his meaning to Siissmaier, that he might complete the 
work after his death.*' The great Mozart died in the thirty- 
sixth year of hb age, leaving a wife and two sons totally un- 
provided for. 

Since the time of Purcell, there have been many eminent 
composers for the church in England ; and a short notice of 
some of them will, perhaps, be interesting to the reader. 

Jeremiah Clarke, instructed by Dr. Blow, in the chapel royal, 
was a man of great talent ; but an unfortunate attachment to 
a youhg lady far above him in rank, was the cause of his 
untimely end. Dr. Blow had so much regard for him, that 
in the year 1693 he resigned, in his favour, the situation of 
master of the children and almoner of St. Paul's. In 1700 
Blow and Clarke were elected gentlemen extraordinary in the 
kings chapel, and in 1704, jointly to the situation of organist. 

DR. CLARKE. 255 

Clarke's compositions are not numerous. His style is 
remarkably pathetic and plaintive, and always pleasing to 
the cultivated ear as well as the crowd, for whom every com- 
poser must chiefly write. He occupies among musicians the 
same rank as the long to be remembered Otway does among 

Dr. Aldrich was dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and was 
in every respect an extraordinary man ; for he was a profound 
theologian, an excellent architect, skilled in the physico- 
mathematical sciences, and thoroughly acquainted with the 
principles and practice of music. The catch, ** Good ! good ! 
indeed ;" and the beautiful round, *' Hark, the bonny Christ- 
church Bells ^' are by him. Beside these and many other 
compositions of a similar kind, he wrote nearly forty services 
and anthems, many of which are still publicly performed. He 
died in the year 1710, leaving the whole of his musical col- 
lection to his college. 

William Croft was born at Nether-Eatington, in Warwick- 
shire, in 1677. After passing rapidly from one situation of 
honour to another, and enjoying a continued professional 
prosperity, he received, in 1715, the diploma of doctor of 
music in the university of Oxford. In 1724 he published in 
two volumes a collection of his choral music, in a work called 
" Musica Sacra ; or, Select Anthems in Score, for two, three, 
four, five, six, seven, and eight voices, to which is added the 
Burial Service, as it is occasionally performed in Westminster 
Abbey." Croft died in 1727, in the fiftieth year of his age, 
and was buried in the north aisle of the abbey in which he so 
long and successfully officiated. His music is universally 
esteemed, and will long be so, for its pure harmony, skilful 
arrangement and pathos. 


Dr. Boyce, whose name has been frequently mentioned in 
connection with the church music of this country, as hairing 
published an important collection of cathedral music in score, 
was educated by Dr. Greene, by whom the work was com- 
menced. The compositions he has left us place him in a high 
rank among modern musicians. ^' Dr. Boyce," says a modern 
writer, ** with all reverence for the abilities of Handel^ was one 
of the few of our church composers who neither pillaged nor 
servilely imitated him. There is an original and sterling 
merit in his productions, founded as much on the study of the 
old masters as on the best models of other countries, which 
gives to all his works a peculiar stamp and character of his 
own, for strength, clearness, and facility, without any mixture 
of styles or extraneous and heterogeneous ornaments." 

We have now presented the reader with a short sketch of 
the history of music^ and have introduced to his notice the 
compositions of some of the most celebrated musicians of past 
times. We do not pretend to have even mentioned the 
names of all who deserve to be placed in the highest ranks of 
musical talent ; nor has it been our object to give a consecu- 
tive account of all that has been done, but to refer those who 
may be interested in the study of music to the works of some 
few composers, and to give a sketch of the early progress of 
the science. 






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